cut command in Linux with Examples


cut - remove sections from each line of files.


cut OPTION... [FILE]...


-b, --bytes=LIST
   select for printing only the bytes in positions listed in Byte-list.
-c, --characters=LIST
   select by specifying a character, a set of characters, or a range of characters.
-d, --delimiter=DELIM
   specify a delimiter that will be used instead of the default “TAB” delimiter. An input delimiter may be specified only when operating on fields, i.e., -f option.
-f, --fields=LIST
   select for printing only the fileds in positions listed in Field-list; also print any line that contains no delimiter character, unless the -s option is specified
   complement the set of selected bytes, characters or fields
   Do not split multi-byte characters (no-op for now). Suppresses splitting of multibyte characters (like utf-8 characters). Use this option only with the -b flag. If the last byte of a character falls within the range denoted by the List variable of the -b flag, the character is written; otherwise, the character is excluded. 
-s, --only-delimited
   do not print lines not containing delimiters
   use STRING as the output delimiter the default is to use the input delimiter
-z, --zero-terminated
   line delimiter is NULL, not newline
   display this help and exit
   output version information and exit


N      the Nth field, byte or character, starting from 1.
N-     from the Nth field, byte or character, to the end of the line.
N-M    from the Nth to the Mth field, byte, or character.
-M     from the first to the Mth field, byte, or character.


cut is an extremely powerful text manipulator, it manipulates text column wise (vertically). This is often used in combination with other Linux commands or filters. It is a command-line utility that allow you to cut parts of lines from specified files or piped data and print the result to standard output.

cut command can be used to cut parts of a line by delimiter, byte position, and character.

With no FILE specified, or when FILE is -, command reads from standard input.


1. When no option is specified with cut command, it displays an error.

$ cut textfile1.txt 
cut: you must specify a list of bytes, characters, or fields
Try 'cut --help' for more information.

Let's have a sample file test.txt

$  cat test.txt 
2233|a.k. shukla|g.m.|12/12/52|6000
1122|jai sharma|production|03/12/50|7000
3344|sumit singh|marketing|04/19/43|6000    

2. Use -d option to specify a delimiter that will be used instead of the default “TAB” delimiter. To display the 2nd and the 3rd field of test.txt file, here delimiter is '|' symbol.

$ cut -d "|" -f 2,3 test.txt
a.k. shukla|g.m.
jai sharma|production
sumit singh|marketing 

3. Use option -b to display the 1st, 2nd and the 3rd bytes of test.txt file.

$ cut -b 1,2,3 test.txt

4. Alternatively, we can also use range format with -b option, instead of sepecifying each bytes.

$ cut -b 1-3 test.txt

5. Use --complemet option to complement the selected characters, bytes or fields. The fields that have been selected by -b or -f or by -c flags are left out, i.e., the selected fields are not displayed in the output.

$  cut -b 1-3 --complement test.txt
3|a.k. shukla|g.m.|12/12/52|6000
2|jai sharma|production|03/12/50|7000
4|sumit singh|marketing|04/19/43|6000

6. Use -c option to dispay the set of characters from each line.

$ cut -c -5,11-17,20- test.txt
3344| singh|rketing|04/19/43|6000

Above cut command prints first 5 characters, 11-17 characters and 20 to the last characters from each line of the input file.

7. Use --output-delimiter option to set the output delimiter.

$ cut -d " " -f 1-2 --output-delimiter="|" textfile1.txt 
Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started