Linux Tee Command with Examples

The tee command records from the regular input and writes both standard output and one or more files simultaneously. Tee is frequently used in sequence with other commands through piping.

In this article, we will cover the basics of working the tee command.

tee Command Syntax

The syntax for the tee command is as below:

tee [OPTIONS] [FILE]

Where OPTIONS can be:

    • -a (–append) – Do not overwrite the files; instead, affix to the given files.
    • -i (–ignore-interrupts) – Ignore interrupt signals.
    • Use tee –help to view all available options.
  • FILE_NAMES – One or more files. Each of which the output data is written to

 How to Use the tee Command

The tee command’s most basic method represents the standard output (stdout) of a program and writing it in a file.

In the below example, we use the df command to get information about the available disk space on the file system. The output is piped to the tee command, expressing the result to the terminal, and writes the same information to the file disk_usage.txt.

$ df -h | tee disk_usage.txt

Output:

Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on

dev             7.8G     0  7.8G   0% /dev

run             7.9G  1.8M  7.9G   1% /run

/dev/nvme0n1p3  212G  159G   43G  79% /

tmpfs           7.9G  357M  7.5G   5% /dev/shm

tmpfs           7.9G     0  7.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup

tmpfs           7.9G   15M  7.9G   1% /tmp

/dev/nvme0n1p1  511M  107M  405M  21% /boot

/dev/sda1       459G  165G  271G  38% /data

tmpfs           1.6G   16K  1.6G   1% /run/user/120

Write to Multiple File

By using the tee command, you can write to multiple files also. To do so, define a list of files separated by space as arguments:

$ command | tee file1.out file2.out file3.out

Append to File

By default, the tee command will overwrite the specified file. Use the -a (–append) option to append the output to the file :

$ command | tee -a file.out

Ignore Interrupt

To ignore interrupts use the -i (–ignore-interrupts) option. This is useful when stopping the command during execution with CTRL+C and want the tee to exit gracefully.

$ command | tee -i file.out

Hide the Output

If you don’t want the tee to write to the standard output, you can redirect it to /dev/null:

$ command | tee file.out >/dev/null

Using tee in Conjunction with sudo

Let us say you need to write to a file owned by root as a sudo user. The following command will fail because the redirection of the output is not operated by sudo. The redirection is executed as the unprivileged user.

$ sudo echo "newline" > /etc/file.conf

The output will look something like this:

Output:

bash: /etc/file.conf: Permission denied

Prepend sudo before the tee command as shown below:

$ echo "newline" | sudo tee -a /etc/file.conf

the tee will receive the echo command output, upgrade to sudo permissions and then write to the file.

Using tee in combination with sudo enables you to write to files owned by other users.

Conclusion:

If you want to read from standard input and writes it to standard output and one or more files, then the tee command is used.

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