Alternatives to popular CLI tools: cat

Last Updated on June 4, 2023

This article spotlights alternative tools to cat.

cat derives its name from concatenation and provides other nifty options too. For example, it can be be used to write contents to a file by typing them from the terminal itself.

Enterprising users will appreciate you can display the contents of a file using the shell builtin read.

man page for cat

The software featured here is free and open source. All tools provide a command-line interface (CLI) unless otherwise stated.

Alternatives to cat
batSuper charged cat - Features in our Top 100 CLI Apps
mdcatSophisticated Markdown rendering for the terminal - Features in our Top 100 TUI Apps
grcatFrontend for generic colouriser grc
tacConcatenate and print files in reverse
ccatColorizing cat

Why is tac included when both cat and tac are part of Coreutils? Well, tac is the reverse of cat. We can pipe the output of tac to tac, which is equivalent to cat. Many other tools let you cat files as well.

Have we missed any open source alternatives to cat? Please let us know!
Other alternative tools to catx

All the CLI tools in this series.

Alternatives to CLI tools
age // awk // bc // cal // cat // cd // chmod // cksum // cloc // cmp // compress // cp // cron // curl // cut // date // dd // df // diff // dig // du // find // ftp // grep // gzip // hexdump // history // jq // kill // less // locate // ls // lsof // make // man // more // mv / ping // ps // psql // rename // rm // sed // split // ssh // strings // sudo // sysctl // talk // tar // telnet // time // top // touch // traceroute // tree // uname // uniq // uptime // vi // watch // Wget // who // whois // xargs

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Michael Foley
Michael Foley
10 months ago
Have we missed any open source alternatives to cat? Please let us know!" Read more »

I’d add ccat, a Go tool that colorizes cat.