Linux split command

Updated: 05/04/2019 by Computer Hope
split command

On Unix-like operating systems, the split command splits a file into pieces.

This page covers the GNU/Linux version of split.


split outputs fixed-size pieces of input INPUT to files named PREFIXaa, PREFIXab, ...

The default size for each split file is 1000 lines, and default PREFIX is "x". With no INPUT, or when INPUT is a dash ("-"), read from standard input.


split [OPTION]... [INPUT [PREFIX]]


-a N, --suffix-length=N Use suffixes of length N (default 2)
-b SIZE, --bytes=SIZE Write SIZE bytes per output file.
-C SIZE, --line-bytes=SIZE Write at most SIZE bytes of lines per output file.
-d, --numeric-suffixes Use numeric suffixes instead of alphabetic.
-e, --elide-empty-files Do not generate empty output files with "-n"
--filter=COMMAND Write to shell command COMMAND; file name is $FILE
-l NUMBER, --lines=NUMBER Put NUMBER lines per output file.
-n CHUNKS, --number=CHUNKS Generate CHUNKS output files. (See below.)
-u, --unbuffered Immediately copy input to output with "-n r/...".
--verbose Print a verbose diagnostic before each output file is opened.
--help Display a help message and exit.
--version Output version information and exit.

SIZE may be one of the following, or an integer optionally followed by one of following multipliers:

suffix multiplier
KB 1000
K 1024
MB 1000 x 1000
M 1024 x 1024

...and so on for G (gigabytes), T (terabytes), P (petabytes), E (exabytes), Z (zettabytes), Y (yottabytes).

CHUNKS may be:

  • N: split into N files based on size of input
  • K/N: output Kth of N to standard output
  • l/N: split into N files without splitting lines
  • l/K/N: output Kth of N to standard output without splitting lines
  • r/N: like "l" but use round robin distribution r/K/N likewise but only output Kth of N to standard output


split -b 22 newfile.txt new

Split the file newfile.txt into three separate files called newaa, newab and newac..., with each file containing 22 bytes of data.

split -l 300 file.txt new

Split the file newfile.txt into files beginning with the name new, each containing 300 lines of text.

csplit — Split files based on a defined context.