How To Open A File In Linux

Whether you’re a system administrator, a developer, or an enthusiast, understanding how to open, read, and edit files is an essential skill in Linux. This guide will walk you through the process of how to open a file in Linux using the terminal.

Opening a File in Linux

Firstly, you need to open the terminal. This is usually done by pressing the CTRL, ALT, and T keys simultaneously. After the terminal opens, navigate to the directory containing the file you want to open. You can do this with the cd command. For instance, if your file is in the Documents directory, you would type:

    cd Documents

Using the ‘cat’ Command

One of the simplest ways to open a file in Linux is by using the cat command, which is short for “concatenate.” This command can read and concatenate files, displaying their contents on the standard output (in this case, the terminal).

The syntax is pretty straightforward:

    cat filename

Replace ‘filename’ with the name of your file.

Using the ‘less’ Command

If you have a large text file that can’t fit on one screen, you can use the less command. This command works much like the cat command but it allows you to navigate within the file using the arrow keys.

The syntax for this command is also simple:

    less filename

Replace ‘filename’ with the name of your file.

Opening a File for Editing

If you want to open a file not just to read, but also to edit, you can use a command-line text editor like nano, vi, or vim. For example, to open a file with nano, you would use the following command:

    nano filename

Replace ‘filename’ with the name of your file.


Opening files in Linux may seem daunting at first, especially for new users. However, with the right commands and a little practice, you’ll quickly become accustomed to the process. Remember that the terminal is a very powerful tool in Linux, and the more you understand it, the more control you’ll have over your system.