Skip to content

Linux commands: wc

A quick guide to the `wc` command, used to count lines, words or bytes

The wc command gives us useful information about a file or input it receives via pipes.

echo test >> test.txt
wc test.txt
1       1       5 test.txt

Example via pipes, we can count the output of running the ls -al command:

ls -al | wc
6      47     284

The first column returned is the number of lines. The second is the number of words. The third is the number of bytes.

We can tell it to just count the lines:

wc -l test.txt

or just the words:

wc -w test.txt

or just the bytes:

wc -c test.txt

Bytes in ASCII charsets equate to characters, but with non-ASCII charsets, the number of characters might differ because some characters might take multiple bytes, for example this happens in Unicode.

In this case the -m flag will help getting the correct value:

wc -m test.txt

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

β†’ Download my free CLI Handbook!



You might be interested in those things I do:

  • Learn to code in THE VALLEY OF CODE, your your web development manual
  • Find a ton of Web Development projects to learn modern tech stacks in practice in THE VALLEY OF CODE PRO
  • I wrote 16 books for beginner software developers, DOWNLOAD THEM NOW
  • Every year I organize a hands-on cohort course coding BOOTCAMP to teach you how to build a complex, modern Web Application in practice (next edition February-March-April-May 2024)
  • Learn how to start a solopreneur business on the Internet with SOLO LAB (next edition in 2024)
  • Find me on X

Related posts that talk about cli: