Understanding unix commands was never easer. Here’s how!

The Unix commands might be quite daunting for every developer. Each command is using a different set of cryptic options with ambigious short forms. Instead of reading the manpage of each command and figuring out what every option means, there is a better way to do it. Find out how in the following geeky coffee break.


In this geeky coffee break we introduce the explainshell web app. This tool parses most of the Unix commands’ man pages and extracts the options. Then, when we copy-paste a command along with its options it matches them automatically and links the options visually nicely with their explanation.


Searching for the command line options’ explanations inside the manual pages might be a very tedious task. Instead, we can use a tool that automatically links the explanations with the options we intend to use, just as explainshell is doing.


It is pretty straightforward to use this web app. Go to explainshell.com, copy-paste the Unix command we want to use together with its options and instantaneously get a strikingly visual explanations. We can see one example in the image below:

Using the explainshell web app
Illustration: An example of the explainshell web app use

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A great command line to help the usage of the other commands is tldr. It displays simple help pages for the command we want to use.