10.1.2 What information is listed

These options affect the information that ls displays. By default, only file names are shown.


In long format, list each file’s author. In GNU/Hurd, file authors can differ from their owners, but in other operating systems the two are the same.


Print an additional line after the main output:

//DIRED// beg1 end1 beg2 end2

The begn and endn are unsigned integers that record the byte position of the beginning and end of each file name in the output. This makes it easy for Emacs to find the names, even when they contain unusual characters such as space or newline, without fancy searching.

If directories are being listed recursively via --recursive (-R), output a similar line with offsets for each subdirectory name:

//SUBDIRED// beg1 end1

Finally, output a line of the form:

//DIRED-OPTIONS// --quoting-style=word

where word is the quoting style (see Formatting the file names).

Here is an actual example:

$ mkdir -p a/sub/deeper a/sub2
$ touch a/f1 a/f2
$ touch a/sub/deeper/file
$ ls -gloRF --dired a
  total 8
  -rw-r--r-- 1    0 Jun 10 12:27 f1
  -rw-r--r-- 1    0 Jun 10 12:27 f2
  drwxr-xr-x 3 4096 Jun 10 12:27 sub/
  drwxr-xr-x 2 4096 Jun 10 12:27 sub2/

  total 4
  drwxr-xr-x 2 4096 Jun 10 12:27 deeper/

  total 0
  -rw-r--r-- 1 0 Jun 10 12:27 file

  total 0
//DIRED// 48 50 84 86 120 123 158 162 217 223 282 286
//SUBDIRED// 2 3 167 172 228 240 290 296
//DIRED-OPTIONS// --quoting-style=literal

The pairs of offsets on the ‘//DIRED//’ line above delimit these names: f1, f2, sub, sub2, deeper, file. The offsets on the ‘//SUBDIRED//’ line delimit the following directory names: a, a/sub, a/sub/deeper, a/sub2.

Here is an example of how to extract the fifth entry name, ‘deeper’, corresponding to the pair of offsets, 222 and 228:

$ ls -gloRF --dired a > out
$ dd bs=1 skip=222 count=6 < out 2>/dev/null; echo

Although the listing above includes a trailing slash for the ‘deeper’ entry, the offsets select the name without the trailing slash. However, if you invoke ls with --dired (-D) along with an option like --escape (-b) and operate on a file whose name contains special characters, the backslash is included:

$ touch 'a b'
$ ls -blog --dired 'a b'
  -rw-r--r-- 1 0 Jun 10 12:28 a\ b
//DIRED// 30 34
//DIRED-OPTIONS// --quoting-style=escape

If you use a quoting style like --quoting-style=c (-Q) that adds quote marks, then the offsets include the quote marks. So beware that the user may select the quoting style via the environment variable QUOTING_STYLE. Hence, applications using --dired should either specify an explicit --quoting-style=literal (-N) option on the command line, or else be prepared to parse the escaped names.

The --dired (-D) option implies long format output with hyperlinks disabled, and takes precedence over previously specified output formats or hyperlink mode.


Produce long format, and list times in full. It is equivalent to using --format=long (-l) with --time-style=full-iso (see Formatting file timestamps).


Produce long format, but omit owner information.


Inhibit display of group information in long format. (This is the default in some non-GNU versions of ls, so we provide this option for compatibility.)


Append a size letter to each size, such as ‘M’ for mebibytes. Powers of 1024 are used, not 1000; ‘M’ stands for 1,048,576 bytes. This option is equivalent to --block-size=human-readable. Use the --si option if you prefer powers of 1000.


Print the inode number (also called the file serial number and index number) of each file to the left of the file name. (This number uniquely identifies each file within a particular file system.)


Produce long format. In addition to the name of each file, print the file type, file mode bits, number of hard links, owner name, group name, size, and timestamp (see Formatting file timestamps), normally the modification timestamp (the mtime, see File timestamps). If the owner or group name cannot be determined, print the owner or group ID instead, right-justified as a cue that it is a number rather than a textual name. Print question marks for other information that cannot be determined.

For block special files and character special files, the size field is replaced by the corresponding device major and minor numbers as two decimal numbers separated by a comma and at least one space.

Normally the size is printed as a byte count without punctuation, but this can be overridden (see Block size). For example, --human-readable (-h) prints an abbreviated, human-readable count, and ‘--block-size="'1"’ prints a byte count with the thousands separator of the current locale.

For each directory that is listed, preface the files with a line ‘total blocks’, where blocks is the file system allocation for all files in that directory. The block size currently defaults to 1024 bytes, but this can be overridden (see Block size). The blocks computed counts each hard link separately; this is arguably a deficiency.

The file type is one of the following characters:


regular file


block special file


character special file


high performance (“contiguous data”) file




door (Solaris)


symbolic link


off-line (“migrated”) file (Cray DMF)


network special file (HP-UX)


FIFO (named pipe)


port (Solaris)




some other file type

The file mode bits listed are similar to symbolic mode specifications (see Symbolic Modes). But ls combines multiple bits into the third character of each set of permissions as follows:


If the set-user-ID or set-group-ID bit and the corresponding executable bit are both set.


If the set-user-ID or set-group-ID bit is set but the corresponding executable bit is not set.


If the restricted deletion flag or sticky bit, and the other-executable bit, are both set. The restricted deletion flag is another name for the sticky bit. See Structure of File Mode Bits.


If the restricted deletion flag or sticky bit is set but the other-executable bit is not set.


If the executable bit is set and none of the above apply.



Following the file mode bits is a single character that specifies whether an alternate access method such as an access control list applies to the file. When the character following the file mode bits is a space, there is no alternate access method. When it is a printing character, then there is such a method.

GNU ls uses a ‘.’ character to indicate a file with a security context, but no other alternate access method.

A file with any other combination of alternate access methods is marked with a ‘+’ character.


Produce long format, but display right-justified numeric user and group IDs instead of left-justified owner and group names.


Produce long format, but omit group information. It is equivalent to using --format=long (-l) with --no-group (-G).


Print the file system allocation of each file to the left of the file name. This is the amount of file system space used by the file, which is usually a bit more than the file’s size, but it can be less if the file has holes.

Normally the allocation is printed in units of 1024 bytes, but this can be overridden (see Block size).

For files that are NFS-mounted from an HP-UX system to a BSD system, this option reports sizes that are half the correct values. On HP-UX systems, it reports sizes that are twice the correct values for files that are NFS-mounted from BSD systems. This is due to a flaw in HP-UX; it also affects the HP-UX ls program.


Append an SI-style abbreviation to each size, such as ‘M’ for megabytes. Powers of 1000 are used, not 1024; ‘M’ stands for 1,000,000 bytes. This option is equivalent to --block-size=si. Use the -h or --human-readable option if you prefer powers of 1024.


Display the SELinux security context or ‘?’ if none is found. In long format, print the security context to the left of the size column.