ls command in Ubuntu

Published: April 09, 2022

Last updated: September 16, 2022

ls command in Ubuntu

In this article, we would discuss "ls" command in Ubuntu. We also cover its associated options and arguments.

With the help of ls command-line utility, we get to list the contents of a directory. If we open a terminal and just enter the following command -


It will show us the names of files and directories present in a particular directory. This is pretty much everything a simple "ls" command can do. However, if we want to extract more out of it then, we need to provide options and arguments.

But, first a bit about options and arguments. We need to understand the concept -

options - these are basically single letters preceded by hyphen(-). For instance -

ls -a

If we want the command to recognize a word as an option then that word needs to be preceded by double hyphens(--)

ls --version

Lastly, an argument on which the command-line utility can act on. This can be filename, directory name, device etc.

ls -l /etc/hosts

"ls" command in Ubuntu

Now, coming back to the purpose of the article - "ls" command.

Here, we will use various options and arguments which can be utilized effectively with ls command.

I. ls - a basically lists all the files and directories. When we say all the files and directories it includes hidden as well.

ls -a

II. ls -A it lists all the file and directories which ls -a shows as output except implied . and ..

ls -A

III. ls -l --block-size= this is used to scale sizes. It will list the size of files in MBs. For KBs, we can use K -

ls -l --block-size=M


ls -l --block-size=K

IV. ls --color= this is used to colorize the output. Valid arguments are -

- 'yes', 'always' and 'force'
- 'no', 'never' and 'none'
- 'auto', 'tty' and 'if-tty'
ls --color=no

The above command will decolorize the output.

V. ls -l use a long list format.

ls -l

VI. ls -g similar to ls -l, but doesn't display the owner.

ls -g

VII. ls -h for human readable format, use it with -l or -s option

ls -hl


ls -hs

VIII. ls -i prints index number (inode) of each file/directory.

ls -i

IX. ls -S to sort the files/directories by size. The largest of those will be displayed first.

ls -Sl

X. ls --version to display the installed version number and other information.

ls --version

In conclusion, ls command-line utility is a great tool if we want to analyse file/directories effectively. If you want to try more command options then, it is always good to use -

ls --help