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TREE(1) General Commands Manual TREE(1)


tree - list contents of directories in a tree-like format.


tree [-acdfghilnpqrstuvxACDFJQNSUX] [-L level [-R]] [-H baseHREF] [-T title] [-o filename] [-P pattern] [-I pattern] [--gitignore] [--gitfile[=]file] [--matchdirs] [--metafirst] [--ignore-case] [--nolinks] [--hintro[=]file] [--houtro[=]file] [--inodes] [--device] [--sort[=]name] [--dirsfirst] [--filesfirst] [--filelimit #] [--si] [--du] [--prune] [--charset[=]X] [--timefmt[=]format] [--fromfile] [--fromtabfile] [--fflinks] [--info] [--infofile[=]file] [--noreport] [--version] [--help] [--] [directory ...]


Tree is a recursive directory listing program that produces a depth indented listing of files, which is colorized ala dircolors if the LS_COLORS environment variable is set and output is to tty. With no arguments, tree lists the files in the current directory. When directory arguments are given, tree lists all the files and/or directories found in the given directories each in turn. Upon completion of listing all files/directories found, tree returns the total number of files and/or directories listed.

By default, when a symbolic link is encountered, the path that the symbolic link refers to is printed after the name of the link in the format:

name -> real-path

If the `-l' option is given and the symbolic link refers to an actual directory, then tree will follow the path of the symbolic link as if it were a real directory.


Tree understands the following command line switches:


All files are printed. By default tree does not print hidden files (those beginning with a dot `.'). In no event does tree print the file system constructs `.' (current directory) and `..' (previous directory).
List directories only.
Follows symbolic links if they point to directories, as if they were directories. Symbolic links that will result in recursion are avoided when detected.
Prints the full path prefix for each file.
Stay on the current file-system only. Ala find -xdev.
Max display depth of the directory tree.
Recursively cross down the tree each level directories (see -L option), and at each level outputting to a file named 00Tree.html (ala -o).
List only those files that match the wild-card pattern. You may have multiple -P options. Note: you must use the -a option to also consider those files beginning with a dot `.' for matching. Valid wildcard operators are `*' (any zero or more characters), `**` (any zero or more characters as well as null /'s, i.e. /**/ may match a single /), `?' (any single character), `[...]' (any single character listed between brackets (optional - (dash) for character range may be used: ex: [A-Z]), and `[^...]' (any single character not listed in brackets) and `|' separates alternate patterns. A '/' at the end of the pattern matches directories, but not files.
Do not list those files that match the wild-card pattern. You may have multiple -I options. See -P above for information on wildcard patterns.
Uses git .gitignore files for filtering files and directories. Also uses $GIT_DIR/info/exclude if present.
Use file explicitly as a gitignore file.
If a match pattern is specified by the -P or -I option, this will cause the pattern to match without regard to the case of each letter.
If a match pattern is specified by the -P option, this will cause the pattern to be applied to directory names (in addition to filenames). In the event of a match on the directory name, matching is disabled for the directory's contents. If the --prune option is used, empty folders that match the pattern will not be pruned.
Print the meta-data information at the beginning of the line rather than after the indentation lines.
Makes tree prune empty directories from the output, useful when used in conjunction with -P or -I. See BUGS AND NOTES below for more information on this option.
Prints file comments found in .info files. See .INFO FILES below for more information on the format of .info files.
Use file explicitly as a info file.
Omits printing of the file and directory report at the end of the tree listing.
Set the character set to use when outputting HTML and for line drawing.
Do not descend directories that contain more than # entries.
Prints (implies -D) and formats the date according to the format string which uses the strftime(3) syntax.
Send output to filename.


Print non-printable characters in filenames as question marks instead of the default.
Print non-printable characters as is instead of as escaped octal numbers.
Quote the names of files in double quotes.
Print the file type and permissions for each file (as per ls -l).
Print the username, or UID # if no username is available, of the file.
Print the group name, or GID # if no group name is available, of the file.
Print the size of each file in bytes along with the name.
Print the size of each file but in a more human readable way, e.g. appending a size letter for kilobytes (K), megabytes (M), gigabytes (G), terabytes (T), petabytes (P) and exabytes (E).
Like -h but use SI units (powers of 1000) instead.
For each directory report its size as the accumulation of sizes of all its files and sub-directories (and their files, and so on). The total amount of used space is also given in the final report (like the 'du -c' command.) This option requires tree to read the entire directory tree before emitting it, see BUGS AND NOTES below. Implies -s.
Print the date of the last modification time or if -c is used, the last status change time for the file listed.
Append a `/' for directories, a `=' for socket files, a `*' for executable files, a `>' for doors (Solaris) and a `|' for FIFO's, as per ls -F
Prints the inode number of the file or directory
Prints the device number to which the file or directory belongs


Sort the output by version.
Sort the output by last modification time instead of alphabetically.
Sort the output by last status change instead of alphabetically. Modifies the -D option (if used) to print the last status change instead of modification time.
Do not sort. Lists files in directory order. Disables --dirsfirst.
Sort the output in reverse order. This is a meta-sort that alter the above sorts. This option is disabled when -U is used.
List directories before files. This is a meta-sort that alters the above sorts. This option is disabled when -U is used.
List files before directories. This is a meta-sort that alters the above sorts. This option is disabled when -U is used.
Sort the output by type instead of name. Possible values are: ctime (-c), mtime (-t), size, or version (-v).


Makes tree not print the indentation lines, useful when used in conjunction with the -f option. Also removes as much whitespace as possible when used with the -J or -X options.
Turn on ANSI line graphics hack when printing the indentation lines.
Turn on CP437 line graphics (useful when using Linux console mode fonts). This option is now equivalent to `--charset=IBM437' and may eventually be depreciated.
Turn colorization off always, over-ridden by the -C option, however overrides CLICOLOR_FORCE if present.
Turn colorization on always, using built-in color defaults if the LS_COLORS or TREE_COLORS environment variables are not set. Useful to colorize output to a pipe.


Turn on XML output. Outputs the directory tree as an XML formatted file.
Turn on JSON output. Outputs the directory tree as a JSON formatted array.
Turn on HTML output, including HTTP references. Useful for ftp sites. baseHREF gives the base ftp location when using HTML output. That is, the local directory may be `/local/ftp/pub', but it must be referenced as `ftp://hostname.organization.domain/pub' (baseHREF should be `ftp://hostname.organization.domain'). Hint: don't use ANSI lines with this option, and don't give more than one directory in the directory list. If you wish to use colors via CSS style-sheet, use the -C option in addition to this option to force color output.
Use file as the HTML intro in place of the default one. Use an empty file or /dev/null to eliminate the intro altogether.
Use file as the HTML outro in place of the default one. Use an empty file or /dev/null to eliminate the outro altogether.
Sets the title and H1 header string in HTML output mode.
Turns off hyperlinks in HTML output.


Reads a directory listing from a file rather than the file-system. Paths provided on the command line are files to read from rather than directories to search. The dot (.) directory indicates that tree should read paths from standard input. NOTE: this is only suitable for reading the output of a program such as find, not 'tree -fi' as symlinks are not distinguished from files that simply contain ' -> ' as part of the filename unless the --fflinks option is used.
Like --fromfile, tree reads a directory tree from a text file where the files are tab indented in a tree like format to indicate the directory nesting level.
Processes symbolic link information found in a file, as from the output of 'tree -fi --noreport'. Only the first occurrence of the string ' -> ' is used to denote the separation of the filename from the link.


Outputs a verbose usage listing.
Outputs the version of tree.
Option processing terminator. No further options will be processed after this.


.info files are similar to .gitignore files, if a .info file is found while scanning a directory it is read and added to a stack of .info information. Each file is composed of comments (lines starting with hash marks (#),) or wild-card patterns which may match a file relative to the directory the .info file is found in. If a file should match a pattern, the tab indented comment that follows the pattern is used as the file comment. A comment is terminated by a non-tab indented line. Multiple patterns, each to a line, may share the same comment.


/etc/DIR_COLORS System color database.
~/.dircolors Users color database.
.gitignore Git exclusion file
$GIT_DIR/info/exclude Global git file exclusion list
.info File comment file
/usr/share/finfo/global_info Global file comment file


LS_COLORS Color information created by dircolors
TREE_COLORS Uses this for color information over LS_COLORS if it is set.
TREE_CHARSET Character set for tree to use in HTML mode.
CLICOLOR Enables colorization even if TREE_COLORS or LS_COLORS is not set.
CLICOLOR_FORCE Always enables colorization (effectively -C)
NO_COLOR Disable colorization (effectively -n) (see
LC_CTYPE Locale for filename output.
LC_TIME Locale for timefmt output, see strftime(3).
TZ Timezone for timefmt output, see strftime(3).
STDDATA_FD Enable the stddata feature, optionally set descriptor to use.


Steve Baker (
HTML output hacked by Francesc Rocher (
Charsets and OS/2 support by Kyosuke Tokoro (


Tree does not prune "empty" directories when the -P and -I options are used by default. Use the --prune option.

The -h and --si options round to the nearest whole number unlike the ls implementations which rounds up always.

Pruning files and directories with the -I, -P and --filelimit options will lead to incorrect file/directory count reports.

The --prune and --du options cause tree to accumulate the entire tree in memory before emitting it. For large directory trees this can cause a significant delay in output and the use of large amounts of memory.

The timefmt expansion buffer is limited to a ridiculously large 255 characters. Output of time strings longer than this will be undefined, but are guaranteed to not exceed 255 characters.

XML/JSON trees are not colored, which is a bit of a shame.

Probably more.

As of version 2.0.0, in Linux, tree will attempt to automatically output a compact JSON tree on file descriptor 3 (what I call stddata,) if present and the environment variable STDDATA_FD is defined or set to a positive non-zero file descriptor value to use to output on. It is hoped that some day a better Linux/Unix shell may take advantage of this feature, though BSON would probably be a better format for this.


dircolors(1), ls(1), find(1), du(1), strftime(3) gitignore(5)

Tree 2.1.1