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  • Writer's picturePaul Troncone

Linux cut Command Overview

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Use the cut command to extract columnar data from files by using character or field location

Common Command Options

-c    Character    Extract specified character(s)
-d    Delimiter    Specify the delimiter used to separate data fields
-f    Field        Extract specified field(s)


For the examples the following file, designated as sample.txt, will be used as input:

This is line 1
This is line 2
This is line 3

Cutting by Field

The data (words) contained in sample.txt are delimited (separated into fields) using the space character. The cut command uses the tab character as the default delimiter. To specify the space character as the delimiter you can use the -d option followed by ' '.

cut -d ' '

Next you choose the field or fields you want to extract. Fields begin with the number 1. To extract the second field from each line of sample.txt use the -f option:

$ cut -d ' ' -f 2 sample.txt


To cut the 2nd and 3rd field from each line use -f 2-3

$ cut -d ' ' -f 2-3 sample.txt

is line
is line
is line

To cut the 2nd field and all fields after it from each line use -f 2-

$ cut -d ' ' -f 2- sample.txt

is line 1
is line 2
is line 3

Cutting by Character

You can also extract specific characters from each line of the input file using in much the same way using the -c option. Here the first 3 characters is extracted from each line:

$ cut -c 1-3 sample.txt


Additional Resources

For more information on the cut command be sure to check out:

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