Excellent Utilities: tldr – simplified and community-driven man pages

In Operation

Let’s have a look at tldr in operation. Type tldr followed by the command or program you want to learn more about.

When the program is run for the first time, the software updates the cache and creates an index of all the community pages.

In the image below, we show the information for cp, a command used to copy files or group of files or directories.

tldr - cp

As you can see, we’re presented with succinct and pertinent information. Rather than listing every option in alphabetical order as man pages do, the community that maintains the tldr database covers the key options and sorts them with helpful explanatory text with examples.

Sometimes you’ve been browsing the tldr community pages. You can’t remember which specific page you were reviewing but can remember a specific word or phrase. There’s a --search option which searches through the tldr database and displays matches for the search term. In the example below, we’re searching for any page that contains the word nested.

tldr - search

If you like to find out about new commands and programs, there’s a couple of options that show a random command or a random example.

tldr - random command

tldr - random example


The software stores a cache of the community pages on your systems. There’s a few commands to maintain the cache, and to list them.

$ tldr -c – clears the cache.
$ tldr -u – updates the local cache.
$ tldr -l – list all commands in the cache.

Next page: Page 3 – Summary

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Summary

Complete list of articles in this series:

Excellent Utilities
tmuxA terminal multiplexer that offers a massive boost to your workflow
lnavAdvanced log file viewer for the small-scale; great for troubleshooting
PaperworkDesigned to simplify the management of your paperwork
AbricotineMarkdown editor with inline preview functionality
mdlessFormatted and highlighted view of Markdown files
fkillKill processes quick and easy
TuskAn unofficial Evernote client with bags of potential
UlauncherSublime application launcher
McFlyNavigate through your bash shell history
LanguageToolStyle and grammar checker for 30+ languages
pecoSimple interactive filtering tool that's remarkably useful
Liquid PromptAdaptive prompt for Bash & Zsh
AnanicyShell daemon created to manage processes’ IO and CPU priorities
cheat.shCommunity driven unified cheat sheet
ripgrepRecursively search directories for a regex pattern
exaA turbo-charged alternative to the venerable ls command
OCRmyPDFAdd OCR text layer to scanned PDFs
WatsonTrack the time spent on projects
fontpreviewQuickly search and preview fonts
fdWonderful alternative to the venerable find
scrcpyDisplay and control Android devices
dufDisk usage utility with more polished presentation than the classic df
tldrSimplified and community-driven man pages
lsdLike exa, lsd is a turbo-charged alternative to ls
brootNext gen tree explorer and customizable launcher
DeskreenLive streaming your desktop to a web browser
PDF Mix ToolPerform common editing operations on PDF files
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  1. I love tldr. Somewhat surprised it wasn’t included earlier. I found it indispensable when I was starting out. The manual pages are find when you know what you are doing but are a pretty lame introduction.

  2. I always recommend my students consult tldr and cheat.sh before exploring other documentation. Personally I prefer tealdeer, it’s written in Rust, and probably the quickest implementation.

    1. I think you are referring to tealdeer. Like tldr, neither needs a network connection to use it (except to update the cache). I often have an unreliable net connection. the tools get round this issue, I can still keep learning

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