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How to List Directory Contents in Linux ( dir command).

In Linux, if we want to list the contents of a directory, we use the dir command. The dir (directory) command is used to list the contents of a directory in the Linux/Unix operating system.

If we execute dir command, it displays the files and folders in the directory, and if we execute the ls command we will get a similar result. Both commands are part of Coreutils and, just with different default options. We can't say that dir is the alias of ls, No command in Linux is an alias of another command. We can say that the dir command is equivalent to ls -C -b i.e., by default files are listed in columns, sorted vertically, and special characters by backslash escape sequences. apart from this the output of dir command is not colored like ls command.

The general syntax of dir command

dir [OPTION]... [FILE]...

Brief description of options available with the 'dir' command.

Option Description
-a, --all display all hidden files (starting with ' . ')
-A, --almost-all do not list implied . and ..
--author with -l, print the author of each file
--block-size=SIZE with -l, scale sizes by SIZE before printing them
-B, --ignore-backups ignores the listing of backup files.
-F, --classify append indicator (one of */=>@|) to entries
--file-type likewise, except do not append '*'
--format=WORD across -x, commas -m, horizontal -x, long -l, single-column -l, verbose -l, vertical -C
-i, --inode print the index number of each file
-r, --reverse list files in reverse order while sorting
-R, --recursive list subdirectories recursively
--help display help and exit
--version output version information and exit

Example: Display hidden files starting with ' . ' using -a or --all option.

In this example, in the directory 'shadow' '.textfile.txt' file available starting with . but without using -a or --all option these files are not visible using dir command but using -a or --all file is visible.


Example: Display author of the files with -l.

In this example, using dir -l --author in the 'shadow' directory list of all files with owner details, group details are displayed as shown in the below image.


Example: Display files excluding backup files ( ends with ~).

We know that backup files end with '~' sign. textfile.txt~ is the backup file in the 'shadow' folder but just using dir command textfile.txt~ is visible but using -B or --ignore-backups textfile.txt~ is not visible.


Example: Use of append indicator.

In this example, dir -F or --classify command classifies files into their types.

  • '/' sign indicates a directory.
  • '*' sign indicates an executable.
  • '@' sign indicates a symbolic link.
  • '%' sign indicates a whiteout.
  • '=' sign indicates a socket.
  • '|' sign indicates a FIFO.


(' / ') denotes that 'myfolder' is a directory.


In this tutorial, we covered how to list directory contents in the Linux operating system using the dir command with available options and suitable examples. In Linux ls and vdir are also available for the same purpose.

About the author:
Pradeep has expertise in Linux, Go, Nginx, Apache, CyberSecurity, AppSec and various other technical areas. He has contributed to numerous publications and websites, providing his readers with insightful and informative content.