How to Create a File in Linux

Creating files using the command line is an essential skill for Linux users. There are several methods to create a file in Linux quickly. We will be creating text (.txt) files as examples.

Note: Linux commands featured in this article are distro-independent, meaning they will work on any Linux distro.

Using the touch Command

The touch command is, arguably, the easiest command to create a new empty file.

To create a file with the touch command, from the command line, enter:

# touch newfile.txt

Where newfile.txt is the name of the file to be created.

After we create the command, we can verify its existence with the ls -al command.

# ls -al
Create the file with the touch command. Verify with ls -al.
The touch command can easily create a file.

Note that you can create multiple files at once using the touch command.

# touch newfile1.txt newfile2.txt newfile3.txt

Using the Redirect Operator (>)

The redirect operator, or right angle bracket, > allows Linux users to create a new empty file quickly.

# > newfile2.txt

Verify the file was created with the ls -al command.

# ls -al

Note that you can use the redirect operator, >, with other commands to create a new file with the results of a command. For example

# ls -al > directorylisting.txt

will create a new file, directorylisting.txt, to output, or ‘redirect’, the directory listing to directorylisting.txt rather than the screen.

Create a file with the redirect operator, >. Verify with ls -al.
You can create files with the redirect command (<).

Using the cat Command

Although the cat command is primarily used to read and concatenate files, it can also be used to create a new file. To use the cat command to create a new file, enter cat, followed by the redirection operator, >, and the name of the file you want to create. Press <Enter> and type the text you want (press <Enter> for new line). Finally, press <Ctrl><D> to save the file.

# cat > newfile3.txt
This is the first line.
This is the second line.
This is the third line.

Verify that the file was created:

# ls -al
Create a file with the cat command and redirect operator, >. Verify with ls -al.
The cat command can be used to create files.

Using the echo Command

The echo command outputs strings passed as arguments to the standard outputs that can be forwarded to a new file using the redirection operator, >. For example:

echo "Let's create a new file." > newfile4.txt

Use the cat command to display the new file’s content.

# cat newfile4.txt

Note that you can use the redirect operator twice, >>, to append text to the file.

echo "We've create a new file!" >> newfile4.txt

Use the cat command to display the new file’s content.

# cat newfile4.txt
Use the echo command to create a file and add and append text.
An echo command example.

Additionally, the echo command with the redirection operator, >, and no text to create an empty file.

# echo > newfile5.txt

Using the printf Command

The printf command works almost identical to the echo command but has added formatting functionality. In this example, we will create a new file, newfile5.txt The file has content. . Use the ls -al command to verify the file, and list the file’s contents.

# printf 'The printf command is similar to the echo command. But has additional formating functions.\n' > newfile5.txt
# ls -al
# cat newfile5.txt

Note the “\n” in the command above. This signals¬†printf to start a new line.

The printf command is almost identical to the echo command.
Create a file using the printf command.

Like the echo command, with the printf command, you can use double redirect operators, >>, append text to the file.

# printf 'I told you we could add a new line!\n' >> newfile5.txt
# cat newfile5.txt
Just like the echo command, text can be appended using double redirection operators, >>.
Just like the echo command, text can be appended using double redirection operators, >>.

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment