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FILE(1)			  BSD General Commands Manual		       FILE(1)

     file — determine file type

     file [-bcEhiklLNnprsvz0] [--apple] [--mime-encoding] [--mime-type]
	  [-e testname] [-F separator] [-f namefile] [-m magicfiles] file ...
     file -C [-m magicfiles]
     file [--help]

     This manual page documents version 5.18 of the file command.

     file tests each argument in an attempt to classify it.  There are three
     sets of tests, performed in this order: filesystem tests, magic tests,
     and language tests.  The first test that succeeds causes the file type to
     be printed.

     The type printed will usually contain one of the words text (the file
     contains only printing characters and a few common control characters and
     is probably safe to read on an ASCII terminal), executable (the file con‐
     tains the result of compiling a program in a form understandable to some
     UNIX kernel or another), or data meaning anything else (data is usually
     “binary” or non-printable).  Exceptions are well-known file formats (core
     files, tar archives) that are known to contain binary data.  When modify‐
     ing magic files or the program itself, make sure to preserve these
     keywords.	Users depend on knowing that all the readable files in a
     directory have the word “text” printed.  Don't do as Berkeley did and
     change “shell commands text” to “shell script”.

     The filesystem tests are based on examining the return from a stat(2)
     system call.  The program checks to see if the file is empty, or if it's
     some sort of special file.	 Any known file types appropriate to the sys‐
     tem you are running on (sockets, symbolic links, or named pipes (FIFOs)
     on those systems that implement them) are intuited if they are defined in
     the system header file <sys/stat.h>.

     The magic tests are used to check for files with data in particular fixed
     formats.  The canonical example of this is a binary executable (compiled
     program) a.out file, whose format is defined in <elf.h>, <a.out.h> and
     possibly <exec.h> in the standard include directory.  These files have a
     “magic number” stored in a particular place near the beginning of the
     file that tells the UNIX operating system that the file is a binary exe‐
     cutable, and which of several types thereof.  The concept of a “magic”
     has been applied by extension to data files.  Any file with some invari‐
     ant identifier at a small fixed offset into the file can usually be
     described in this way.  The information identifying these files is read
     from the compiled magic file /usr/share/file/misc/magic.mgc, or the files
     in the directory /usr/share/file/misc/magic if the compiled file does not
     exist.  In addition, if $HOME/.magic.mgc or $HOME/.magic exists, it will
     be used in preference to the system magic files.

     If a file does not match any of the entries in the magic file, it is
     examined to see if it seems to be a text file.  ASCII, ISO-8859-x, non-
     ISO 8-bit extended-ASCII character sets (such as those used on Macintosh
     and IBM PC systems), UTF-8-encoded Unicode, UTF-16-encoded Unicode, and
     EBCDIC character sets can be distinguished by the different ranges and
     sequences of bytes that constitute printable text in each set.  If a file
     passes any of these tests, its character set is reported.	ASCII,
     ISO-8859-x, UTF-8, and extended-ASCII files are identified as “text”
     because they will be mostly readable on nearly any terminal; UTF-16 and
     EBCDIC are only “character data” because, while they contain text, it is
     text that will require translation before it can be read.	In addition,
     file will attempt to determine other characteristics of text-type files.
     If the lines of a file are terminated by CR, CRLF, or NEL, instead of the
     Unix-standard LF, this will be reported.  Files that contain embedded
     escape sequences or overstriking will also be identified.

     Once file has determined the character set used in a text-type file, it
     will attempt to determine in what language the file is written.  The lan‐
     guage tests look for particular strings (cf.  <names.h>) that can appear
     anywhere in the first few blocks of a file.  For example, the keyword .br
     indicates that the file is most likely a troff(1) input file, just as the
     keyword struct indicates a C program.  These tests are less reliable than
     the previous two groups, so they are performed last.  The language test
     routines also test for some miscellany (such as tar(1) archives).

     Any file that cannot be identified as having been written in any of the
     character sets listed above is simply said to be “data”.

	     Causes the file command to output the file type and creator code
	     as used by older MacOS versions. The code consists of eight let‐
	     ters, the first describing the file type, the latter the creator.

     -b, --brief
	     Do not prepend filenames to output lines (brief mode).

     -C, --compile
	     Write a magic.mgc output file that contains a pre-parsed version
	     of the magic file or directory.

     -c, --checking-printout
	     Cause a checking printout of the parsed form of the magic file.
	     This is usually used in conjunction with the -m flag to debug a
	     new magic file before installing it.

     -E	     On filesystem errors (file not found etc), instead of handling
	     the error as regular output as POSIX mandates and keep going,
	     issue an error message and exit.

     -e, --exclude testname
	     Exclude the test named in testname from the list of tests made to
	     determine the file type.  Valid test names are:

	     apptype   EMX application type (only on EMX).

	     ascii     Various types of text files (this test will try to
		       guess the text encoding, irrespective of the setting of
		       the ‘encoding’ option).

	     encoding  Different text encodings for soft magic tests.

	     tokens    Ignored for backwards compatibility.

	     cdf       Prints details of Compound Document Files.

	     compress  Checks for, and looks inside, compressed files.

	     elf       Prints ELF file details.

	     soft      Consults magic files.

	     tar       Examines tar files.

     -F, --separator separator
	     Use the specified string as the separator between the filename
	     and the file result returned.  Defaults to ‘:’.

     -f, --files-from namefile
	     Read the names of the files to be examined from namefile (one per
	     line) before the argument list.  Either namefile or at least one
	     filename argument must be present; to test the standard input,
	     use ‘-’ as a filename argument.  Please note that namefile is
	     unwrapped and the enclosed filenames are processed when this
	     option is encountered and before any further options processing
	     is done.  This allows one to process multiple lists of files with
	     different command line arguments on the same file invocation.
	     Thus if you want to set the delimiter, you need to do it before
	     you specify the list of files, like: “-F @ -f namefile”, instead
	     of: “-f namefile -F @”.

     -h, --no-dereference
	     option causes symlinks not to be followed (on systems that sup‐
	     port symbolic links).  This is the default if the environment
	     variable POSIXLY_CORRECT is not defined.

     -i, --mime
	     Causes the file command to output mime type strings rather than
	     the more traditional human readable ones.	Thus it may say
	     ‘text/plain; charset=us-ascii’ rather than “ASCII text”.

     --mime-type, --mime-encoding
	     Like -i, but print only the specified element(s).

     -k, --keep-going
	     Don't stop at the first match, keep going.	 Subsequent matches
	     will be have the string ‘\012- ’ prepended.  (If you want a new‐
	     line, see the -r option.)	The magic pattern with the highest
	     strength (see the -l option) comes first.

     -l, --list
	     Shows a list of patterns and their strength sorted descending by
	     magic(4) strength which is used for the matching (see also the -k

     -L, --dereference
	     option causes symlinks to be followed, as the like-named option
	     in ls(1) (on systems that support symbolic links).	 This is the
	     default if the environment variable POSIXLY_CORRECT is defined.

     -m, --magic-file magicfiles
	     Specify an alternate list of files and directories containing
	     magic.  This can be a single item, or a colon-separated list.  If
	     a compiled magic file is found alongside a file or directory, it
	     will be used instead.

     -N, --no-pad
	     Don't pad filenames so that they align in the output.

     -n, --no-buffer
	     Force stdout to be flushed after checking each file.  This is
	     only useful if checking a list of files.  It is intended to be
	     used by programs that want filetype output from a pipe.

     -p, --preserve-date
	     On systems that support utime(3) or utimes(2), attempt to pre‐
	     serve the access time of files analyzed, to pretend that file
	     never read them.

     -r, --raw
	     Don't translate unprintable characters to \ooo.  Normally file
	     translates unprintable characters to their octal representation.

     -s, --special-files
	     Normally, file only attempts to read and determine the type of
	     argument files which stat(2) reports are ordinary files.  This
	     prevents problems, because reading special files may have pecu‐
	     liar consequences.	 Specifying the -s option causes file to also
	     read argument files which are block or character special files.
	     This is useful for determining the filesystem types of the data
	     in raw disk partitions, which are block special files.  This
	     option also causes file to disregard the file size as reported by
	     stat(2) since on some systems it reports a zero size for raw disk

     -v, --version
	     Print the version of the program and exit.

     -z, --uncompress
	     Try to look inside compressed files.

     -0, --print0
	     Output a null character ‘\0’ after the end of the filename.  Nice
	     to cut(1) the output.  This does not affect the separator, which
	     is still printed.

     --help  Print a help message and exit.

     /usr/share/file/misc/magic.mgc  Default compiled list of magic.
     /usr/share/file/misc/magic	     Directory containing default magic files.

     The environment variable MAGIC can be used to set the default magic file
     name.  If that variable is set, then file will not attempt to open
     $HOME/.magic.  file adds “.mgc” to the value of this variable as appro‐
     priate.  However, file has to exist in order for file.mime to be consid‐
     ered.  The environment variable POSIXLY_CORRECT controls (on systems that
     support symbolic links), whether file will attempt to follow symlinks or
     not.  If set, then file follows symlink, otherwise it does not.  This is
     also controlled by the -L and -h options.

     magic(4), hexdump(1), od(1), strings(1),

     This program is believed to exceed the System V Interface Definition of
     FILE(CMD), as near as one can determine from the vague language contained
     therein.  Its behavior is mostly compatible with the System V program of
     the same name.  This version knows more magic, however, so it will pro‐
     duce different (albeit more accurate) output in many cases.

     The one significant difference between this version and System V is that
     this version treats any white space as a delimiter, so that spaces in
     pattern strings must be escaped.  For example,

	   >10	   string  language impress	   (imPRESS data)

     in an existing magic file would have to be changed to

	   >10	   string  language\ impress	   (imPRESS data)

     In addition, in this version, if a pattern string contains a backslash,
     it must be escaped.  For example

	   0	   string	   \begindata	   Andrew Toolkit document

     in an existing magic file would have to be changed to

	   0	   string	   \\begindata	   Andrew Toolkit document

     SunOS releases 3.2 and later from Sun Microsystems include a file command
     derived from the System V one, but with some extensions.  This version
     differs from Sun's only in minor ways.  It includes the extension of the
     ‘&’ operator, used as, for example,

	   >16	   long&0x7fffffff >0		   not stripped

     The magic file entries have been collected from various sources, mainly
     USENET, and contributed by various authors.  Christos Zoulas (address
     below) will collect additional or corrected magic file entries.  A con‐
     solidation of magic file entries will be distributed periodically.

     The order of entries in the magic file is significant.  Depending on what
     system you are using, the order that they are put together may be incor‐
     rect.  If your old file command uses a magic file, keep the old magic
     file around for comparison purposes (rename it to

	   $ file file.c file /dev/{wd0a,hda}
	   file.c:   C program text
	   file:     ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV),
		     dynamically linked (uses shared libs), stripped
	   /dev/wd0a: block special (0/0)
	   /dev/hda: block special (3/0)

	   $ file -s /dev/wd0{b,d}
	   /dev/wd0b: data
	   /dev/wd0d: x86 boot sector

	   $ file -s /dev/hda{,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10}
	   /dev/hda:   x86 boot sector
	   /dev/hda1:  Linux/i386 ext2 filesystem
	   /dev/hda2:  x86 boot sector
	   /dev/hda3:  x86 boot sector, extended partition table
	   /dev/hda4:  Linux/i386 ext2 filesystem
	   /dev/hda5:  Linux/i386 swap file
	   /dev/hda6:  Linux/i386 swap file
	   /dev/hda7:  Linux/i386 swap file
	   /dev/hda8:  Linux/i386 swap file
	   /dev/hda9:  empty
	   /dev/hda10: empty

	   $ file -i file.c file /dev/{wd0a,hda}
	   file.c:	text/x-c
	   file:	application/x-executable
	   /dev/hda:	application/x-not-regular-file
	   /dev/wd0a:	application/x-not-regular-file

     There has been a file command in every UNIX since at least Research
     Version 4 (man page dated November, 1973).	 The System V version intro‐
     duced one significant major change: the external list of magic types.
     This slowed the program down slightly but made it a lot more flexible.

     This program, based on the System V version, was written by Ian Darwin
     ⟨⟩ without looking at anybody else's source code.

     John Gilmore revised the code extensively, making it better than the
     first version.  Geoff Collyer found several inadequacies and provided
     some magic file entries.  Contributions by the ‘&’ operator by Rob McMa‐
     hon, ⟨⟩, 1989.

     Guy Harris, ⟨⟩, made many changes from 1993 to the present.

     Primary development and maintenance from 1990 to the present by Christos
     Zoulas ⟨⟩.

     Altered by Chris Lowth ⟨⟩, 2000: handle the -i option to
     output mime type strings, using an alternative magic file and internal

     Altered by Eric Fischer ⟨⟩, July, 2000, to identify charac‐
     ter codes and attempt to identify the languages of non-ASCII files.

     Altered by Reuben Thomas ⟨⟩, 2007-2011, to improve MIME sup‐
     port, merge MIME and non-MIME magic, support directories as well as files
     of magic, apply many bug fixes, update and fix a lot of magic, improve
     the build system, improve the documentation, and rewrite the Python bind‐
     ings in pure Python.

     The list of contributors to the ‘magic’ directory (magic files) is too
     long to include here.  You know who you are; thank you.  Many contribu‐
     tors are listed in the source files.

     Copyright (c) Ian F. Darwin, Toronto, Canada, 1986-1999.  Covered by the
     standard Berkeley Software Distribution copyright; see the file COPYING
     in the source distribution.

     The files tar.h and is_tar.c were written by John Gilmore from his pub‐
     lic-domain tar(1) program, and are not covered by the above license.

     file returns 0 on success, and non-zero on error.

     Please report bugs and send patches to the bug tracker at or the mailing list at ⟨⟩ (visit first to subscribe).

     Fix output so that tests for MIME and APPLE flags are not needed all over
     the place, and actual output is only done in one place.  This needs a
     design.  Suggestion: push possible outputs on to a list, then pick the
     last-pushed (most specific, one hopes) value at the end, or use a default
     if the list is empty.  This should not slow down evaluation.

     Continue to squash all magic bugs.	 See Debian BTS for a good source.

     Store arbitrarily long strings, for example for %s patterns, so that they
     can be printed out.  Fixes Debian bug #271672.  Would require more com‐
     plex store/load code in apprentice.

     Add syntax for relative offsets after current level (Debian bug #466037).

     Make file -ki work, i.e. give multiple MIME types.

     Add a zip library so we can peek inside Office2007 documents to figure
     out what they are.

     Add an option to print URLs for the sources of the file descriptions.

     Combine script searches and add a way to map executable names to MIME
     types (e.g. have a magic value for !:mime which causes the resulting
     string to be looked up in a table).  This would avoid adding the same
     magic repeatedly for each new hash-bang interpreter.

     Fix “name” and “use” to check for consistency at compile time (duplicate
     “name”, “use” pointing to undefined “name” ).  Make “name” / “use” more
     efficient by keeping a sorted list of names.  Special-case ^ to flip
     endianness in the parser so that it does not have to be escaped, and doc‐
     ument it.

     You can obtain the original author's latest version by anonymous FTP on in the directory /pub/file/file-X.YZ.tar.gz.

BSD			       January 30, 2014				   BSD

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