LS(1) BSD General Commands Manual LS(1)
ls -- list directory contents
ls [-ABCFGHLPRTWZabcdfghiklmnopqrstuwx1] [file ...]
For each operand that names a file of a type other than directory, ls displays its name as
well as any requested, associated information. For each operand that names a file of type
directory, ls displays the names of files contained within that directory, as well as any
requested, associated information.
If no operands are given, the contents of the current directory are displayed. If more than
one operand is given, non-directory operands are displayed first; directory and non-direc-
tory operands are sorted separately and in lexicographical order.
The following options are available:
-A List all entries except for . and ... Always set for the super-user.
-B Force printing of non-printable characters (as defined by ctype(3) and current
locale settings) in file names as \xxx, where xxx is the numeric value of the char-
acter in octal.
-C Force multi-column output; this is the default when output is to a terminal.
-F Display a slash ('/') immediately after each pathname that is a directory, an aster-
isk ('*') after each that is executable, an at sign ('@') after each symbolic link,
an equals sign ('=') after each socket, a percent sign ('%') after each whiteout,
and a vertical bar ('|') after each that is a FIFO.
-G Enable colorized output. This option is equivalent to defining CLICOLOR in the
environment. (See below.)
-H Symbolic links on the command line are followed. This option is assumed if none of
the -F, -d, or -l options are specified.
-L If argument is a symbolic link, list the file or directory the link references
rather than the link itself. This option cancels the -P option.
-P If argument is a symbolic link, list the link itself rather than the object the link
references. This option cancels the -H and -L options.
-R Recursively list subdirectories encountered.
-T When used with the -l (lowercase letter ``ell'') option, display complete time
information for the file, including month, day, hour, minute, second, and year.
-W Display whiteouts when scanning directories.
-a Include directory entries whose names begin with a dot (.).
-b As -B, but use C escape codes whenever possible.
-c Use time when file status was last changed for sorting or printing.
-d Directories are listed as plain files (not searched recursively).
-f Output is not sorted.
-g This option is deprecated and is only available for compatibility with 4.3BSD; it
was used to display the group name in the long (-l) format output.
-h When used with the -l option, use unit suffixes: Byte, Kilobyte, Megabyte, Gigabyte,
Terabyte and Petabyte in order to reduce the number of digits to three or less using
base 2 for sizes.
-i For each file, print the file's file serial number (inode number).
-k If the -s option is specified, print the file size allocation in kilobytes, not
blocks. This option overrides the environment variable BLOCKSIZE.
-l (The lowercase letter ``ell''.) List in long format. (See below.) If the output
is to a terminal, a total sum for all the file sizes is output on a line before the
-m Stream output format; list files across the page, separated by commas.
-n Display user and group IDs numerically rather than converting to a user or group
name in a long (-l) output.
-o Include the file flags in a long (-l) output.
-p Write a slash ('/') after each filename if that file is a directory.
-q Force printing of non-graphic characters in file names as the character '?'; this is
the default when output is to a terminal.
-r Reverse the order of the sort to get reverse lexicographical order or the oldest
-s Display the number of file system blocks actually used by each file, in units of 512
bytes, where partial units are rounded up to the next integer value. If the output
is to a terminal, a total sum for all the file sizes is output on a line before the
listing. The environment variable BLOCKSIZE overrides the unit size of 512 bytes.
-t Sort by time modified (most recently modified first) before sorting the operands by
-u Use time of last access, instead of last modification of the file for sorting (-t)
or printing (-l).
-w Force raw printing of non-printable characters. This is the default when output is
not to a terminal.
-x The same as -C, except that the multi-column output is produced with entries sorted
across, rather than down, the columns.
-v Force unedited printing of non-graphic characters; this is the default when output
is not to a terminal.
-1 (The numeric digit ``one''.) Force output to be one entry per line. This is the
default when output is not to a terminal.
The -1, -C, -x, and -l options all override each other; the last one specified determines
the format used.
The -c and -u options override each other; the last one specified determines the file time
The -B, -b, -w, and -q options all override each other; the last one specified determines
the format used for non-printable characters.
The -H, -L and -P options all override each other (either partially or fully); they are
applied in the order specified.
By default, ls lists one entry per line to standard output; the exceptions are to terminals
or when the -C or -x options are specified.
File information is displayed with one or more <blank>s separating the information associ-
ated with the -i, -s, and -l options.
The Long Format
If the -l option is given, the following information is displayed for each file: file mode,
number of links, owner name, group name, number of bytes in the file, abbreviated month,
day-of-month file was last modified, hour file last modified, minute file last modified, and
the pathname. In addition, for each directory whose contents are displayed, the total num-
ber of 512-byte blocks used by the files in the directory is displayed on a line by itself
immediately before the information for the files in the directory.
If the modification time of the file is more than 6 months in the past or future, then the
year of the last modification is displayed in place of the hour and minute fields.
If the owner or group names are not a known user or group name, or the -n option is given,
the numeric ID's are displayed.
If the file is a character special or block special file, the major and minor device numbers
for the file are displayed in the size field. If the file is a symbolic link the pathname
of the linked-to file is preceded by ``->''.
The file mode printed under the -l option consists of the entry type, owner permissions, and
group permissions. The entry type character describes the type of file, as follows:
b Block special file.
c Character special file.
l Symbolic link.
s Socket link.
- Regular file.
The next three fields are three characters each: owner permissions, group permissions, and
other permissions. Each field has three character positions:
1. If r, the file is readable; if -, it is not readable.
2. If w, the file is writable; if -, it is not writable.
3. The first of the following that applies:
S If in the owner permissions, the file is not executable and set-user-
ID mode is set. If in the group permissions, the file is not exe-
cutable and set-group-ID mode is set.
s If in the owner permissions, the file is executable and set-user-ID
mode is set. If in the group permissions, the file is executable and
setgroup-ID mode is set.
x The file is executable or the directory is searchable.
- The file is neither readable, writable, executable, nor set-user-ID
nor set-group-ID mode, nor sticky. (See below.)
These next two apply only to the third character in the last group (other permis-
T The sticky bit is set (mode 1000), but not execute or search permis-
sion. (See chmod(1) or sticky(8).)
t The sticky bit is set (mode 1000), and is searchable or executable.
(See chmod(1) or sticky(8).)
The following is how to do an ls listing sorted by size (and shows why ls does not need a
separate option for this):
ls -l | sort -n +4
Additionally, the -r flag to sort(1) may be used to get the results sorted from largest to
smallest (a reverse sort).
The ls utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.
The following environment variables affect the execution of ls:
BLOCKSIZE If the environment variable BLOCKSIZE is set, the block counts (see -s) will
be displayed in units of that size block.
CLICOLOR Use ANSI color sequences to distinguish file types. See LSCOLORS below. In
addition to the file types mentioned in the -F option some extra attributes
(setuid bit set, etc.) are also displayed. The colorization is dependent on
a terminal type with the proper termcap(5) capabilities. The default
``cons25'' console has the proper capabilities, but to display the colors in
an xterm(1), for example, the TERM variable must be set to ``xterm-color''.
Other terminal types may require similar adjustments. Colorization is
silently disabled if the output isn't directed to a terminal unless the
CLICOLOR_FORCE variable is defined.
CLICOLOR_FORCE Color sequences are normally disabled if the output isn't directed to a ter-
minal. This can be overridden by setting this flag. The TERM variable
still needs to reference a color capable terminal however otherwise it is
not possible to determine which color sequences to use.
COLUMNS If this variable contains a string representing a decimal integer, it is
used as the column position width for displaying multiple-text-column out-
put. The ls utility calculates how many pathname text columns to display
based on the width provided. (See -C and -x.)
LANG The locale to use when determining the order of day and month in the long -l
format output. See environ(7) for more information.
LSCOLORS The value of this variable describes what color to use for which attribute
when colors are enabled with CLICOLOR. This string is a concatenation of
pairs of the format fb, where f is the foreground color and b is the back-
The color designators are as follows:
h light grey
A bold black, usually shows up as dark grey
B bold red
C bold green
D bold brown, usually shows up as yellow
E bold blue
F bold magenta
G bold cyan
H bold light grey; looks like bright white
x default foreground or background
Note that the above are standard ANSI colors. The actual display may differ
depending on the color capabilities of the terminal in use.
The order of the attributes are as follows:
2. symbolic link
6. block special
7. character special
8. executable with setuid bit set
9. executable with setgid bit set
10. directory writable to others, with sticky bit
11. directory writable to others, without sticky bit
The default is "exfxcxdxbxegedabagacad", i.e. blue foreground and default
background for regular directories, black foreground and red background for
setuid executables, etc.
LS_COLWIDTHS If this variable is set, it is considered to be a colon-delimited list of
minimum column widths. Unreasonable and insufficient widths are ignored
(thus zero signifies a dynamically sized column). Not all columns have
changeable widths. The fields are, in order: inode, block count, number of
links, user name, group name, flags, file size, file name.
TERM The CLICOLOR functionality depends on a terminal type with color capabili-
TZ The timezone to use when displaying dates. See environ(7) for more informa-
The group field is now automatically included in the long listing for files in order to be
compatible with the IEEE Std 1003.2 (``POSIX.2'') specification.
chflags(1), chmod(1), sort(1), xterm(1), termcap(5), symlink(7), sticky(8)
The ls utility conforms to IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (``POSIX.1'').
An ls command appeared in Version 1 AT&T UNIX.
To maintain backward compatibility, the relationships between the many options are quite
BSD May 19, 2002 BSD