Linux Command Library


split a file into pieces

- Split a file, each split having 10 lines (except the last split):
split -l [10] [filename]

- Split a file into 5 files. File is split such that each split has same size (except the last split):
split -n [5] [filename]

- Split a file with 512 bytes in each split (except the last split; use 512k for kilobytes and 512m for megabytes):
split -b [512] [filename]

- Split a file with at most 512 bytes in each split without breaking lines:
split -C [512] [filename]

split [,OPTION/]... [,FILE /[,PREFIX/]]

Output pieces of FILE to PREFIXaa, PREFIXab, ...; default size is 1000 lines, and default PREFIX is 'x'.

With no FILE, or when FILE is -, read standard input.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

-a, --suffix-length=,N/
generate suffixes of length N (default 2)
append an additional SUFFIX to file names
-b, --bytes=,SIZE/
put SIZE bytes per output file
-C, --line-bytes=,SIZE/
put at most SIZE bytes of records per output file
use numeric suffixes starting at 0, not alphabetic
same as -d, but allow setting the start value
-e, --elide-empty-files
do not generate empty output files with '-n'
write to shell COMMAND; file name is $FILE
-l, --lines=,NUMBER/
put NUMBER lines/records per output file
-n, --number=,CHUNKS/
generate CHUNKS output files; see explanation below
-t, --separator=,SEP/
use SEP instead of newline as the record separator; '\0' (zero) specifies the NUL character
-u, --unbuffered
immediately copy input to output with '-n r/...'
print a diagnostic just before each output file is opened
display this help and exit
output version information and exit

The SIZE argument is an integer and optional unit (example: 10K is 10*1024). Units are K,M,G,T,P,E,Z,Y (powers of 1024) or KB,MB,... (powers of 1000).

CHUNKS may be:

split into N files based on size of input
output Kth of N to stdout
split into N files without splitting lines/records
output Kth of N to stdout without splitting lines/records
like 'l' but use round robin distribution
likewise but only output Kth of N to stdout

Written by Torbjorn Granlund and Richard M. Stallman.

GNU coreutils online help: <> Report split translation bugs to <>

Copyright © 2016 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>. This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Full documentation at: <> or available locally via: info '(coreutils) split invocation'

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