Linux And Unix Command To View File


I am a new Linux bash shell command line user. How can I view a text file using command line on a Linux or Unix-like operating systems? How can I view (open) binary files such as PDF or images on a Linux or Unix like system from command line?

You can use any one of the following command to view a text file or any other files such as PDF, doc, image, video, music/mp3 and more.

Tutorial details
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Root privilegesNo
Estimated completion timeN/A
  • cat command
  • less command
  • more command
  • gnome-open command or xdg-open command (generic version) or kde-open command (kde version) – Linux gnome/kde desktop command to open any file.
  • open command – OS X specific command to open any file.

View a text file called foo.txt on a Linux or Unix-like systems

Open the Terminal application and type the following command to view a text file called foo.txt using cat command:

  cat foo.txt


  cat /etc/resolv.conf

Sample outputs:

 nameserver nameserver

You can also use more or less command as follows:

  less filename more filename-here

gnome-open: Open files and directories/urls

The gnome-open command opens a file (or a directory or URL), just as if you had double-clicked the file’s icon. The syntax is:

  gnome-open file.pdf gnome-open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3 gnome-open mars-video.mp4 gnome-open

See our faq “Open Gnome Nautilus File Manager For The Current Linux / Unix Command Line” for more information.

If you are using KDE desktop try kde-open command as follows:

  kde-open file.pdf kde-open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3 kde-open mars-video.mp4 kde-open

Another option is to try out xdg-open command on Linux and Unix desktop:

  xdg-open file.pdf xdg-open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3 xdg-open mars-video.mp4 xdg-open

If you are using OS X Unix try open command as follows:

  open file.pdf open sai-ram-bhjan.mp3 open mars-video.mp4 open