Linux wc command

Updated: 03/13/2021 by Computer Hope
wc command

On Unix-like operating systems, the wc command counts the words, newlines, or bytes of each input file, and outputs the result.

This page covers the GNU/Linux version of wc.


wc prints newline, word, and byte counts for each FILE, and a total if more than one FILE is specified. With no FILE, or when FILE is a dash ("-"), wc operates on standard input. (A word is a non-zero-length sequence of characters delimited by white space.)

The options below can select which counts are printed. Counts are always in the following order: newline, word, character, byte, maximum line length.


wc [OPTION]... [FILE]...
wc [OPTION]... --files0-from=F


-c, --bytes Print the byte counts.
-m, --chars Print the character counts.
-l, --lines Print the newline counts.
--files0-from=F Read input from the files specified by null-terminated names in file F; if F is "-" then read names from standard input.
-L, --max-line-length Print the length of the longest line.
-w, --words Print the word counts.
--help Display a help message, and exit.
--version Output version information, and exit.


wc myfile.txt

Displays information about the file myfile.txt. Output resembles the following:

5 13 57 myfile.txt

Where 5 is the number of lines, 13 is the number of words, and 57 is the number of characters.

ls -1 | wc -l

This command returns the number of objects in the current directory. It uses the ls command to produce a single-column (-1) listing of the directory contents, which outputs one line per object; this output is piped to wc, which counts the lines (-l), and returns that number.

cksum — Calculate and display a CRC for files.
nl — Number the lines in a file.