Command Line Option

Definition of Command Line Option

A command line option, also known as a command line argument or parameter, is a user-defined text string entered in a command line interface to specify optional settings or provide additional information to the primary command. These options modify the behavior of the command or enable specific features. They typically follow the main command and may have a prefix such as a hyphen (-) or double-hyphen (–).


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Command Line Option” is:kəˈmand laɪn ˈɒpʃən

Key Takeaways

  1. Command Line Options provide a way for users to customize the behavior of a command or script by passing additional arguments.
  2. They often consist of a hyphen followed by a single letter or double hyphens followed by a word, e.g., -v or –version. Options can have values which are passed after a space or an equal sign.
  3. Using Command Line Options can make your scripts and tools more flexible and powerful, allowing you to perform a variety of tasks without modifying the underlying code.

Importance of Command Line Option

The technology term “Command Line Option” is important because it enables users to provide additional instructions or preferences when executing a command in a command line interface (CLI). Command line options offer increased control, flexibility, and functionality over the default behavior of a command or a program, allowing users to customize their interaction with the tool based on specific needs or requirements.

By offering a wide range of options, users can perform complex tasks, automate processes, and troubleshoot issues more efficiently.

Additionally, command line options are crucial for scripting and batch processing, as they empower users to create more efficient workflows and adapt their tools to different scenarios without manual intervention.


Command line options, also known as command line arguments or switches, hold significant importance when dealing with various computing tasks. They are tailored to enhance the user’s working experience and efficiency by offering a way to customize and control the behavior of command-line programs. The primary purpose of command line options is to simplify the execution of specific tasks by automating processes and providing alternative ways to achieve desired results.

These options are typically incorporated by software developers to increase the adaptability of their programs according to the user’s needs, making it easier for users to interact with different commands and functions without having to browse through numerous menus or settings. In practice, command line options are extensively used across various operating systems like Windows, Linux, and macOS. Users input these options as parameters along with the command, granting them the capability to modify and fine-tune the command’s execution as needed.

By offering a wide range of options, users can easily access additional features and functions of programs, conduct complex operations, or even troubleshoot issues in a more direct manner. For instance, the use of command line options with compilers or file-manipulation commands can substantially streamline repetitive tasks that may otherwise consume a significant amount of time and effort. Ultimately, command line options maximize productivity, improve user experience, and offer adaptable solutions for a diverse range of applications and computing environments.

Examples of Command Line Option

A command line option (also known as a flag or switch) is a software tool that allows users to interact with a program or command by providing additional instructions or to set specific parameters before the program is executed. Here are three real-world examples involving the use of command line options:

Using the ‘grep’ command in Linux/Unix environments:’grep’ is a powerful text-search utility found in Unix-based systems. It allows users to search for a specific pattern within files or output of other commands. Command line options can enhance its functionality; for example, adding the `-i` flag makes the search case-insensitive, meaning that capitalization is ignored when looking for the desired pattern:“`grep -i “search_string” file_name.txt“`2 . Compiling a program using the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) compiler:Developers often need to compile programs from source code to an executable binary format. The GCC compiler offers several command line options to change the behavior of the compilation process. For example, adding the `-o` flag followed by a file name sets the name of the output file:“`gcc source_code.c -o compiled_program“`3 . Running a Python script with custom arguments:Python is a popular programming language used in various applications. When running a Python script, command line options can be used to control script behavior or provide input. For instance, using the `-m` flag allows the user to execute a module as the main program, executing its contents as ‘__main__’:“`python -m module_name“`Additionally, users can pass specific arguments to a script, which can then be parsed and utilized within the script using Python’s built-in argparse module.


FAQ: Command Line Option

What is a Command Line Option?

A command line option, also known as a command line argument or a command line switch, is a parameter or an option passed to a command line utility to provide additional information or modify its behavior.

How do I use Command Line Options?

Command line options can typically be specified after the command name, separated by a space. Most options are prefixed with a single hyphen (-) or double hyphen (–). For example:

some-command -option1 --option2 value

Can I combine multiple Command Line Options?

Yes, you can combine multiple command line options to modify the behavior of a command line utility to suit your needs. For example:

some-command -option1 --option3 value1 --option2 value2

How do I know which Command Line Options are supported by a utility?

For most command line utilities, you can find the supported options by using the –help or -h option. For example:

some-command --help

What is the difference between Command Line Options and Command Line Arguments?

Command line options are a subset of command line arguments. An argument is any item passed to a command line utility, whereas an option is a specific type of argument used to modify the behavior of the utility.


Related Technology Terms

  • Argument Parsing
  • Shell Scripting
  • Terminal Emulator
  • Console Application
  • Text-based User Interface

Sources for More Information

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