Let’s Learn A Little About The ‘dir’ Command

In today’s article, we’re going to learn about the ‘dir’ command. The ‘dir’ and ‘ls’ command are quite similar, but ‘ls’ seems to get all the press. So, today we’ll be looking at the ‘dir’ command. It will be a relatively short article (I suppose) and easy enough for new people to follow.

You’re possibly already familiar with the ‘ls’ command. I’ve written a variety of articles about ‘ls’. We’ve used ‘ls’ in numerous articles along the way. Here are a couple of ‘ls’ articles:

Some Fun With Sorting The Output Of ‘ls’
Let’s Use ‘ls’ To Sort Files By Time

Those are just a couple. WordPress, the backbone of this site, isn’t very good at searching for just two characters like ‘ls’. That’s for good reason and I’m not sure if that behavior can be changed.

Ah well… Root around and I’m sure you’ll find more. I’ve written about 300 articles and can’t possibly remember them all!

Anyhow, we’ll be using the ‘dir’ command in this article. It describes itself pretty well in the man pages, and is similar to the ‘ls’ command. It describes itself as:

dir – list directory contents

So, if you’re familiar with the ‘ls’ command, you’ll find ‘dir’ to be quite similar. I’m sure there’s a reason that both exist – I’m just not sure what that reason is, nor am I sure why both are included by default. Feel free to let me know your thoughts or theories!

Edit: See this link to see why Linux contains both.

Well then, let’s get on with it…

The ‘dir’ Command:

Well, you shouldn’t need to install anything for this article, but you will need to have an open terminal. By now, you know how to open the terminal if you’re a regular reader, but others need only press CTRL + ALT + T and their default terminal should open.

With your terminal now open, let’s just start with the basics. If you just enter the ‘dir’ command it will output a list of all the visible files in that directory. It looks like:

You can also specify a directory, like:

If you want to show hidden files, you can try this:

If you want to list things in a single column, in a list format, you can just add the -l flag. This also shows the file’s permissions and modification time. So, you could try:

If you want to list files with the ‘dir’ command and to do so recursively (digging into the folders within folders), you can do that too. All you need is the -R flag. So, for example:

That’s just scratching the surface of the ‘dir’ command. There’s a whole lot more that you can do, so just try the man page for more nifty tricks  you can do with ‘dir’.

If you have any questions or nifty ‘dir’ information, please feel free to leave a comment. It’s a pretty handy command to have on hand, much like ‘ls’.


And there you have it. You have yet another new article, this one about the ‘dir’ command. It’s not terribly complicated and it’s another tool to toss into your toolbox. You never know when you might want to use it instead of the ‘ls’ command, though they’re awfully similar.

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