When you start out using the command line, you will notice that there are many small and handy programs (also referred to as “commands”) you can run.
You might start out using
pwd (for “print working directory”), which will tell you what directory you are currently in.
Then you might use programs such as
ls to “list” the contents of a directory, and you might use
cd to “change directory” to another directory you might want to go to.
Well there are obviously many many more programs like this, and to know more about them the most important command to know about is the command
man (for “manual”).
If you run e.g.
man pwd, you will get to the manual page for the
pwd command which will tell you most things there are to know about the
Now, this particular man page is not that lengthy, but what if you run
man ls, or what about
man ffmpeg (
ffmpeg deals with multimedia conversion)? Now that’s quite some documentation to go through!
A quicker way to just get the gist of a command can be accessed via https://cheat.sh (it is a web site on it’s own, go check it out). You can also access cheat.sh on the command line via
curl cheat.sh (or even
To get the gist of a command, just type:
curl cht.sh/ls, and you will get the gist of the
ls command! Replace
ls with any command you like.
Another way I prefer is to use the
tldr command, which in essence is the same as cheat.sh in that it is a community-driven manual. However, I have found that
tldr gives a bit more relevant information for macOS which is the OS I am using as my daily driver. The
tldr program does not come pre-installed but you can find the installation information here: https://tldr.sh
If you are on macOS you can install it with
brew install tldr.
tldr, just type
tldr ls in your terminal, replace
ls with the command you would like to know about.