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Linux commands: cat

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A quick guide to the cat command, used to add content to a file

Similar to tail in some way, we have cat. Except cat can also add content to a file, and this makes it super powerful.

In its simplest usage, cat prints a file’s content to the standard output:

cat file

You can print the content of multiple files:

cat file1 file2

and using the output redirection operator > you can concatenate the content of multiple files into a new file:

cat file1 file2 > file3

Using >> you can append the content of multiple files into a new file, creating it if it does not exist:

cat file1 file2 >> file3

When watching source code files it’s great to see the line numbers, and you can have cat print them using the -n option:

cat -n file1

You can only add a number to non-blank lines using -b, or you can also remove all the multiple empty lines using -s.

cat is often used in combination with the pipe operator | to feed a file content as input to another command: cat file1 | anothercommand.

This command works on Linux, macOS, WSL, and anywhere you have a UNIX environment

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