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Basic Unix - Comparing Unix, DOS and Mac Commands

This article compares some basic commands in Unix, DOS and Macintosh operating systems.

Many of the operations that you do with files on a computer are similar no matter what computer or operating system you are using. If you are learning a new operating system, and you already know how to manipulate files and directories using another kind of system, then you simply need to learn the commands for those operations in the new system. The table below shows equivalent commands in Unix, MS-DOS and the Macintosh Finder.


Unix command

DOS command

Macintosh action

list files




show disk or show detailed

ls -l filename

dir filename

select icon and info about a particular file choose Get Info from File menu

show contents of

cat, more, less type, more


(not built in to file Finder; open file in application and scroll text)

copy file



drag icon to another disk; or select icon and choose Duplicate from File menu

move file


rename, ren

drag icon to another folder or window

rename file


rename, ren

click on icon name, then edit or retype

delete file


delete, del,

erase drag file icon to Trash

compare contents



(not built in to of two files Finder)

change directories


chdir, cd

select or open window of desired folder

show current


cd (with no read name in directory arguments)

title bar of active window

create directory


mkdir, md

choose New Folder from File menu

delete directory


rmdir, rd

drag folder icon to Trash

Keywords:command   Doc ID:16203
Owner:Larry T.Group:University of Chicago
Created:2010-12-08 18:00 CSTUpdated:2015-01-19 12:08 CST
Sites:University of Chicago, University of Chicago - Sandbox
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