Command Line Interface

Definition of Command Line Interface

Command Line Interface, or CLI, is a text-based user interface for interacting with a computer program or operating system. Users type text commands, and the program or operating system executes the desired operation based on the command received. CLI provides a direct and efficient way of controlling software and operating systems, often favored by advanced users or programmers.


The phonetics of the keyword “Command Line Interface” can be represented as:/kəˈmænd laɪn ˈɪntərfeɪs/- Command: /kəˈmænd/- Line: /laɪn/- Interface: /ˈɪntərfeɪs/

Key Takeaways

  1. Command Line Interface (CLI) allows users to interact with computer systems by typing text commands.
  2. CLI is faster and more efficient for skilled users, as it can perform complex tasks with fewer keystrokes.
  3. CLI is preferred by developers and administrators due to the level of control and automation it offers.

Importance of Command Line Interface

The Command Line Interface (CLI) is important in the realm of technology due to its text-based interface that offers users an efficient, precise, and powerful way to interact with computers.

By allowing users to type in commands instead of relying on graphical icons and menus, the CLI provides users with versatile tools and scripting abilities that enable the quick execution of tasks, automation of repetitive processes, and a higher level of control over a system’s functionality.

In addition, the CLI consumes fewer resources compared to graphical user interfaces (GUIs), making it a go-to option for system administrators, developers, and power users who require fine-grained control over their systems, especially in networked and server-based environments.

Ultimately, the CLI’s importance stems from its ability to enhance productivity, customization, and control in a variety of computing contexts.


The Command Line Interface (CLI) serves as a channel of communication between the user and the computer’s operating system. It allows the execution of various tasks and programs with the help of textual commands entered into the interface.

CLI serves as an alternative to the Graphical User Interface (GUI) as it streamlines the process of issuing commands, enabling users to perform quick, complex, and repetitive tasks quite efficiently. CLI is especially important for system administrators, developers, and other advanced users who require greater control over their interactions with the system.

The primary purpose of a Command Line Interface is to offer users a direct and intuitive way to interact with their computer without having to navigate through multiple layers of graphical interfaces. By typing commands into the CLI, users can manage files, directories, and system settings, while also automating tasks and interacting with various software applications.

As it is less resource intensive compared to GUI, CLI is particularly useful in remote access and maintenance situations or when working on older machines with limited computing power. Overall, the Command Line Interface is a vital component of modern computing, providing unparalleled efficiency and effectiveness in complex operations that demand speed and precision.

Examples of Command Line Interface

Server Administration: System administrators commonly use Command Line Interface (CLI) when managing servers, especially in data centers and remote servers. CLIs like Microsoft’s PowerShell, Unix’s Terminal, and Linux’s Shell provide a fast and efficient way of navigating server files and executing commands to control server modules, monitor processes, and manage networks.

Software Development and Version Control: Developers use CLI-based tools like Git, which allow them to easily manage project repositories, versions, and file changes. Powerful commands such as ‘git clone’, ‘git commit’, and ‘git pull’ help streamline the software development process by enabling collaboration, version tracking, and merging of code changes.

Database Management: Command Line Interface tools are an essential part of managing and maintaining databases. Popular database management systems like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle provide CLI utilities that enable administrators and developers to create, update, delete, and query database tables, records, and schemas. These CLI tools offer robust commands to perform complex queries and transactions with ease, efficiency, and a high level of productivity.

FAQ – Command Line Interface

What is a Command Line Interface?

A Command Line Interface (CLI) is a text-based user interface that allows users to interact with their computer by typing and running commands. It provides a way to perform tasks on a computer without using a graphical user interface (GUI). Users can perform operations such as creating, editing, and deleting files, navigating directories, and running applications by entering commands.

What are some common Command Line Interfaces?

Some common Command Line Interfaces include the Windows Command Prompt, PowerShell, Linux Terminal, and macOS Terminal. Each of these CLIs has a different set of commands and tools specific to the operating system they are running on.

How do I open a Command Line Interface on my computer?

To open a Command Line Interface on your computer, follow the steps below:

Windows: Press the Windows key, type ‘cmd’ or ‘powershell’ (without the quotes) in the search box, and press Enter.

macOS: Press Command + Space, type ‘terminal’ (without the quotes) in the search box, and press Enter.

Linux: Press Ctrl + Alt + T, or search for ‘terminal’ in the application menu.

What are the advantages of using a Command Line Interface?

A Command Line Interface offers several advantages, including:

  • Efficiency: Performing tasks on a computer using only keyboard commands can be faster than using a mouse and a graphical user interface.
  • Scripting: Users can create scripts with a series of commands to automate repetitive tasks or manage large numbers of files.
  • Low Resource Usage: The CLI typically uses fewer system resources than a GUI, making it ideal for older computers or when running on remote systems.
  • Control and Flexibility: The CLI offers more granular control over the system and its functions, allowing users to customize and optimize their computing environment.

Is it necessary to learn the Command Line Interface in today’s world?

While it is not strictly necessary to learn the Command Line Interface in today’s world, there are still many benefits to understanding and using it. Many advanced users and professionals find the CLI to be more efficient and powerful than using graphical interfaces. Additionally, knowledge of the CLI is often required or highly desirable in certain technical fields, such as programming, system administration, network engineering, and cybersecurity.

Related Technology Terms

  • Shell
  • Terminal emulator
  • Command prompt
  • Scripting language
  • Bash

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents