How to Use Bat Command on Linux

Bat Command on Linux

In the realm of Linux command-line utilities, the bat command emerges as a powerful tool for enhancing your file-viewing experience. Unlike its predecessors such as cat and less, bat offers a unique blend of syntax highlighting, language detection, and Git integration, making it an indispensable asset for developers, sysadmins, and Linux enthusiasts alike. This comprehensive guide will delve deep into the capabilities of the bat command, providing you with a step-by-step walkthrough, troubleshooting insights, and valuable resources to help you wield its power with finesse.

Unveiling the bat Command

When it comes to viewing file content on Linux, the bat command stands out as a dynamic alternative to conventional text viewers. Its array of features includes syntax highlighting, language detection, Git integration, and accessibility enhancements. These qualities make bat it an essential tool for managing files efficiently and enhancing code review workflows.

Installation and Setup

A. Installation Process

To embark on your journey with the bat command, installation is the initial step. Depending on your Linux distribution, you can use package managers such as apt, yum, or pacman. Let’s dive into the installation process for some common distributions:

### Ubuntu/Debian (apt) ###

sudo apt update
sudo apt install bat

### CentOS/Fedora (yum) ###

sudo yum install bat

### Arch Linux (pacman) ###

sudo pacman -S bat

B. Configuration Options

Once you have bat installed, the door to customization opens. The configuration file, usually located at ~/.config/bat/config, empowers you to personalize your bat experience. Let’s explore some key configuration options:

Syntax Highlighting and Theme

# Enable syntax highlighting

# Set a specific theme (e.g., `Monokai Extended Bright`)
--theme="Monokai Extended Bright"

Line Numbers and Tab Expansion

# Show line numbers

# Expand tabs to spaces

Basic Usage

A. Displaying File Content

The core functionality of bat revolves around displaying file content. The basic syntax is as follows:

bat [options] [file]

For instance, to view the contents of a file named example.txt, use:

bat example.txt

B. Navigation and Search

Efficient navigation through files is crucial. Use arrow keys for scrolling, and leverage shortcuts like Ctrl+F and Ctrl+B for faster movement. To search within a file, use / followed by your search query. For instance:


Syntax Highlighting and Language Detection

A. Syntax Highlighting

Syntax highlighting enhances code readability. To enable it in bat, employ the --style flag. For automatic language detection, set --style=auto.

B. Language Detection

To manually specify a language for highlighting, use the -l or --language flag:

bat -l python

Integration with Git and Diffs

A. Git Integration

bat seamlessly integrates with Git, enriching your code review experience. Use it as a pager for git commands to view code changes:

git diff | bat

B. Side-by-Side Diffs

For side-by-side comparisons, bat is a gem. Combine it with the diff command:

diff -u file_old.txt file_new.txt | bat -l diff --paging=always

Advanced Features and Tips

A. Line Ranges and Selections

Specify line ranges to view using bat. For example, to view lines 10 to 20 of a file:

bat --line-range="10:20"

B. Paging and Scrolling

Control paging behavior with --paging. Enhance scrolling with --paging=always for smoother navigation in large files:

bat --paging=always huge_file.log

Accessibility and Theming

A. Accessibility Features

For visually impaired users, enable accessibility options:

bat --style=changes --pager "less -R"

B. Custom Theming

Customize bat‘s appearance by creating and using custom themes:

mkdir -p ~/.config/bat/themes
cp your_theme.tmTheme ~/.config/bat/themes/

Troubleshooting and FAQs

Encountering hiccups? Here are some common issues and solutions:

  • Issue: Syntax highlighting not working.
    • Solution: Ensure bat is properly installed and syntax definitions are available.
  • Issue: Language detection fails.
    • Solution: Use the -l flag to manually specify the language.


As we conclude our journey through the bat command’s capabilities, you’ve gained insights into its versatility for efficient file viewing and code review. Armed with the knowledge of installation, customization, and advanced usage, you’re poised to make the most of bat your Linux command-line adventures. Its fusion of readability, Git integration, and accessibility features has the potential to reshape your workflow, making you a more efficient and effective Linux enthusiast.

In the evolving landscape of command-line utilities, bat shines as a beacon of efficiency and innovation. Embrace its power, explore its nuances, and elevate your Linux experience to new heights. The bat command, with its syntax highlighting prowess and seamless integration, is your key to navigating the labyrinth of files and code with finesse and grace.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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