Today, we are going to learn how to view directory structure using Tree command. As the name says, the
tree command will display the contents of a directory in a tree-like format in Linux and Unix-like operating systems.
You might wonder why on the earth someone would use this command while we already have
ls command to list the contents of a directory.
ls command, Tree command is a recursive directory listing program that produces a depth indented listing of files. It is quite useful to find the directories that contains lot of sub-directories in Unix-like systems.
Install tree in Linux
Tree command is available in the default repositories of most Linux distributions. So, it can be installed from the distribution's default package manager as shown below.
On Arch Linux and its derivatives:
$ sudo pacman -S tree
On RHEL, CentOS, Fedora:
$ sudo yum install tree
$ sudo dnf install tree
$ sudo zypper install tree
On Debian, Linux Mint, Pop OS and Ubuntu:
$ sudo apt-get install tree
We have installed tree utility. Now, let us see some practical examples.
View directory tree structure in Linux
If you run the
tree command without any arguments, the tree command will display all contents of the current working directory in a tree-like format.
Upon completion of listing all files/directories found, tree returns the total number of files and/or directories listed. As you see in the above output, the current directory contains 3321 sub-directories, and 40023 files.
To list the files of the specific directory in a tree-like format, say for example
$ tree /etc/
By default, Tree will not list the hidden files. If you want to list the hidden files, use
-a parameter like below.
$ tree -a /etc/
Now, check the above output. The total of number of directories and files are higher than the previous output. It is because, this time the tree command lists all directories and files including hidden files.
To view the directory structure in a colored format, use
$ tree -C /etc/
Did you notice? Now, the tree command lists the directories and files in different colors. This is will useful to easily distinguish the directories and files.
As you may have noticed, all of the above commands lists the sub-directories and files. You can also list only the directories using
-d parameter like below.
$ tree -d /etc/
You can also display the directory listing line by line using the following command:
$ tree -d /etc/ | less
Press ENTER to navigate through the output.
By default, Tree command will list all sub-directories and the files inside the main directory. To limit the depth or of level of recursion, use
-L parameter like below.
$ tree -L 2 /etc
Here, L indicates the maximum display depth of the directory tree.
For more details, refer the man pages.
$ man tree
As you can see in this guide, tree command will give you a nice graphical tree view of the directory structure. You can use this command when you want to view the contents of directories that have tons of other files/folders nested inside their folders.