TLDR summarizes Linux commands

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 29, 2017

TLDR is a free command line utility for various Linux distributions that provides you with summaries of Linux commands on request.

Linux commands can be quite intimidating, especially if you are a new user. While you may use the man command to get information on a particular command, man descriptions are often not the easiest to go through.

That's where TLDR comes into play. It is a free tool that summarizes Linux commands for you so that you understand core functionality immediately and without going through pages full of descriptions (especially since parameters and options are not necessarily sorted by popularity).

The TLDR pages are a community effort to simplify the beloved man pages with practical examples.

The tool does not take man away, so that you can still use it if something is unclear, or if you want to dig deeper and get a full command listing and detailed description.

TLDR for Linux

The project's website has installation instructions for various clients, and there is also a web version that you can run to test the tool's functionality.

The core command is tldr command, e.g. tldr apt to get a summary of the commands that apt supports.

TLDR gives you a short description of the tool or command, and several important examples. For apt, it explains to you how to search for, install or remove updates for instance.

That's helpful compared to the several pages of commands and descriptions when you run man apt, provided that TLDR comes with an example that matches what the user wants to achieve.

Each example offers a description of what the full command does, and the full command afterwards making it easy to run these commands.

TLDR does not list all switches and options however. While you find popular examples listed for many commands, you may still need to use man at times, or another resource, to find out more about a particular command.

The program is available for Linux, but also for Android (TLDR Viewer), and iOS (TLDR Man Page).

Closing Words

TLDR is a handy utility for Linux users to get summaries of commands. These may help run commands without going through the full man pages first if a command is new, or if you cannot remember it exactly.

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  1. Moltke said on December 23, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    How is this ant different from apropos command or man pages? Seems unnecessary to me

  2. ninveh said on December 2, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I installed tldr viewer on android. The installer requested wi-fi access. I reluctantly approved.
    Looked at a couple of commands – nice.
    Then disconnected from the ethernet (I mostly use my smartphone for cell tower comm or off-line use) – no more commands display in tldr-viewer.
    Apparently the program requires active connection to the ethernet to function. Uninstalling…

  3. dark said on December 1, 2017 at 2:10 am

    Why tldr command doesn’t come with Linux distros out of the box? It should be also on Welcome screen app to get new user quickly familiar with basic Linux commands.

  4. mikef90000 said on November 30, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Not happy with the snap installer default – not in the ‘normal’ user path.
    Having a consistent, simplified command summary is good, as a compliment to the man or info pages.

    HOWEVER, many man and info pages err on the side of ……………………. no details or examples whatsoever. Grrr.

  5. Gerard said on November 29, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    The web version doesn’t work when NoScript is active because of www[dot]google-analytics[dot]com/analytics[dot]js. So make sure you have google-analytics (=evil) blocked by (for instance) uBlock Origin or the hosts file if you really want to use the on-line version. Can users trust the program though, that’s the question.

  6. michal said on November 29, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Why isn’t this command advertised at distro’s splash page, first run notes etc? Great tip, thank you for bringing this up. :)

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