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CompTIA Linux+ XK0-005 - 3.1 - Common Script Utilities: cut

The cut command is a powerful utility in Linux that allows you to extract sections or columns from lines of text or files. It is particularly useful when working with large data sets or log files, as it enables you to filter and manipulate data quickly and efficiently. In this guide, we will explore the various aspects of the cut command, including its purpose, common options, real-world examples, and a conclusion summarizing its utility.


The cut command is used to cut out specific sections from each line of a file or standard input. It operates on a delimiter-specified field or character position basis. By default, cut uses tab as the delimiter, but you can specify a different delimiter using the -d option.

Common Command Options

  • -c, --characters: Specifies the character positions to be extracted.
  • -f, --fields: Specifies the fields to be extracted based on the delimiter.
  • -d, --delimiter: Specifies the delimiter character.
  • --complement: Inverts the selection, printing fields or characters not selected.
  • -s, --only-delimited: Skips lines that do not contain the delimiter.

Real World Examples

Extracting specific characters from a file

cut -c 1-5 file.txt

This command extracts the first five characters from each line of the file.txt file.

Extracting fields based on a delimiter

cut -d ',' -f 2,4 file.csv

This command extracts the second and fourth fields from each line of the file.csv file, considering the comma as the delimiter.

Extracting fields not selected

cut -d ',' --complement -f 3 file.csv

This command prints all fields except the third field from each line of the file.csv file.


The cut command is a versatile tool for manipulating and extracting data in Linux. With its ability to specify fields or characters based on delimiters or positions, it provides a convenient way to extract specific information from text files or the output of other commands. By mastering the cut command, you can efficiently handle large datasets, process log files, and perform various data manipulation tasks with ease.

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