type - Linux


The type command in Linux is used to determine the type of a command. It displays information about whether a command is built into the shell, an alias, a function, or an external binary. Understanding the type of a command is crucial for debugging scripts, optimizing performance, and resolving conflicts between similarly named commands.


The basic syntax for type is as follows:

type [options] command_name [...]

The command_name refers to the command you want to examine. You can specify multiple commands to see their types all at once.


  • -t — Print a single word that is the type of the command (alias, keyword, function, builtin, file, or not found).
  • -p — If the command is an external binary, print the fully qualified path.
  • -P — Force a path search for each command, ignoring functions and built-ins.
  • -a — Display all locations containing an executable named command_name. This includes aliases and functions, if applicable.
  • -f — Suppress shell function lookup. Only the disk file, built-in, or alias will be returned.


  1. Basic Usage:
    Determine the type of the ls command:

    type ls

    Output might be: ls is aliased to 'ls --color=auto'

  2. Multiple Commands:
    Check the type of cat, grep, and echo:

    type cat grep echo
  3. Find All Matches:
    Show all available types for python:

    type -a python

    This can return paths and also mention if it’s aliased or a function.

  4. Force Path Search:
    Only show the binary path for node, ignoring any functions or aliases:

    type -P node

Common Issues

  • Command Not Found: If type returns “not found,” the command is not installed or is not in the PATH of the current shell session.
  • Conflicting Names: Sometimes, an alias or function can overshadow a system command leading to unexpected behavior. Using type helps identify these issues.


type can be combined with other Linux commands to craft powerful command chains or scripts:

Scripting Example: Script to check if certain commands are installed and are not aliases:

commands=("node" "npm" "python")
for cmd in "${commands[@]}"; do
    if [ "$(type -t $cmd)" == "file" ]; then
        echo "$cmd is installed."
        echo "$cmd is not installed as a binary."
  • which – Similar to type -p, but does not show shell functions.
  • whereis – Locates the binary, source, and manual page files for a command.
  • alias – Displays or defines aliases that might affect the output of type.

For further reading on the type command and shell scripting, check the official Bash documentation or accessible online tutorials like “Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide”.