Command line arguments in C/C++

CC++Server Side ProgrammingProgramming

It is possible to pass some values from the command line to your C programs when they are executed. These values are called command line arguments and many times they are important for your program especially when you want to control your program from outside instead of hard coding those values inside the code.

The command line arguments are handled using main() function arguments where argc refers to the number of arguments passed, and argv[] is a pointer array which points to each argument passed to the program. Following is a simple example which checks if there is any argument supplied from the command line and take action accordingly −

Example

 Live Demo

#include <stdio.h>
int main( int argc, char *argv[] ) {
   if( argc == 2 ) {
      printf("The argument supplied is %s\n", argv[1]);
   }
   else if( argc > 2 ) {
      printf("Too many arguments supplied.\n");
   }
   else {
      printf("One argument expected.\n");
   }
}

Output

$./a.out testing
The argument supplied is testing

Output

$./a.out testing1 testing2
Too many arguments supplied.

Output

$./a.out
One argument expected

It should be noted that argv[0] holds the name of the program itself and argv[1] is a pointer to the first command line argument supplied, and *argv[n] is the last argument. If no arguments are supplied, argc will be one, and if you pass one argument then argc is set at 2.

You pass all the command line arguments separated by a space, but if argument itself has a space then you can pass such arguments by putting them inside double quotes "" or single quotes ''. Let us re-write above example once again where we will print program name and we also pass a command line argument by putting inside double quotes −

Example

 Live Demo

#include <stdio.h>
int main( int argc, char *argv[] ) {
   printf("Program name %s\n", argv[0]);
   if( argc == 2 ) {
      printf("The argument supplied is %s\n", argv[1]);
   }
   else if( argc > 2 ) {
      printf("Too many arguments supplied.\n");
   }
   else {
      printf("One argument expected.\n");
   }
}

Output

$./a.out "testing1 testing2"
Progranm name ./a.out
The argument supplied is testing1 testing2
raja
Published on 02-Apr-2019 13:45:01
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