Some commonly used CLI utilities

By: Kannan Ramamoorthy On: Mon 14 January 2019
In: Command-Line
Tags: #Command-Line #Productivity


This is a follow-up article for CLI Intro. I have tried to capture a few commands that is being by me used as a developer. This might help someone to get started with CLI if they are facing these tasks and not using CLI so far.


  • The one-liners here extensively uses pbcopy and pbpaste. If you using *nix you might be required to have some workaround to use the one-liners as is. I strongly suggest to have pbcopy and pbpaste, it lets you compose the one-liners with your normal activities through clipboards.

  • There might be few commands such as jq that are not available out-of-the-box, if you get some error saying "Command not found", please take time to get it installed. I assure that the time you spend on these CLI will worth the efforts in long run.

Common commands:

Pretty Print/Validate xml:

pbpaste|xmllint --format - | pbcopy

Pretty Print/Validate Json:

pbpaste|jq . | pbcopy

Encode a string to base64:

pbpaste| base64 | pbcopy

Decode a string from base64:

pbpaste| base64 --decode| pbcopy

Resumable Copy:

The below command was helpful when I had to copy a huge set of files from my hard-disk to the laptop. I was unable to do it in a single day, so I used the below command to have a resumable copy across multiple days.

rsync --progress -r ‘<source folder>’ ‘<destination folder>’

Copy the current directory to clipboard:


Check if a port is open in a host:

telnet <host> <port>

Find the files containing particular content:

grep -r "<the content to find>" "<partent location from which the search happens recursively>"

Find content for a specific set of files:

grep -r "<the content to find>" --include "<comma separated list of file patterns. ex: '*.java, *js'>" "<partent location from which the search happens recursively>"

Stop all the dockers:

docker ps|awk '{print $1}' | tail -n +2 | xargs docker stop


pbpaste | sort | pbcopy

Sort and De-deplicate:

pbpaste | sort -u | pbcopy


  • Apart from the above commands, it will be good to get comfortable with commands like curl, sed, awk and whatever you think might be needed for your tasks.

  • Leaving it to the reader to get the details of the commands.

  • Apart from that, it’s good to have a mindset that tries to spend some extra time for the first time and automate the mundane tasks. CLI accomplish that automation to certain extent.

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