cksum - macOS


The cksum command in macOS calculates and displays the CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) checksum and byte size of a file. This is primarily used to verify data integrity, ensuring that files have not been altered due to faulty file transfer or disk errors. The cksum command is commonly used in scripting, data backup processes, and automated tasks where integrity checks are crucial.


The basic syntax of the cksum command is as follows:

cksum [file...]
  • file…: One or more files to calculate the checksum for. If no file is specified, cksum reads from standard input.


cksum does not have any additional flags or options. Its functionality is straightforward—calculate the checksum and size for the provided files.


  1. Calculate the checksum of a single file:

    cksum example.txt

    Output provides CRC checksum, byte size, and filename.

  2. Calculate the checksum of multiple files:

    cksum file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt

    This command will list the checksum and size for each specified file.

  3. Using cksum with standard input:

    echo "text to check" | cksum

    Useful for checking data directly passed via pipelines or redirects.

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: If cksum returns a permission error, ensure you have the necessary read permissions for the files you’re trying to check.

    sudo cksum securefile.txt
  • File Not Found: Ensure the correct path to the file. Relative and absolute paths differ and could lead to errors if not used correctly.


cksum can be integrated with other commands for more sophisticated workflows:

  1. Verifying the integrity of files downloaded from the internet:

    curl -O

    Check the output against a known checksum for file integrity.

  2. Generate checksums for all files in a directory:

    find . -type f -exec cksum {} +

    This command lists the checksums and sizes of all files in the current directory and its sub-directories.

  • md5, sha1, sha256: These commands offer alternative methods for generating cryptographic hash functions, which might be more suitable for security-sensitive applications.

  • diff: Used to compare two files line by line.

For more information, refer to the official macOS documentation or the man pages (man cksum).

By utilizing cksum as part of your regular data management and security practices, you can help ensure the integrity of your data across various storage and transmission scenarios.