finger Linux / Unix Command

Easily find user information on Linux

Linux, and its predecessor Unix were originally intended for businesses and large multi-user systems. Unlike modern desktop computers, these systems usually had many people working continually on the same system via different terminals. When you needed to find information about your user account or one of your colleagues, the finger command was there to help.

Now, finger is still useful on server systems that have multiple users. It can help you see where a user is logged in, how long they've been logged in, whether they're working, and how to get in contact with them.

Try running it with no flags or parameters.


The result will be basic information about your user account.

Linux finger command

Now, try it specifying another user's account.

finger <username>

Linux finger command username

The output will be formatted differently and will provide greater detail than before. This is similar to running it with the '-l' flag.

finger -l

Linux finger command multiline output

You can take a look below to see the full extent of what the command can do, but the examples above cover the most common uses.


finger [-lmsp ] [user ... ] [user@host ... ]  


The finger displays information about the system users.



Finger displays the user's login name, real name, terminal name and write status (as a ``*'' after the terminal name if write permission is denied), idle time, login time, office location and office phone number.

Login time is displayed as month, day, hours and minutes, unless more than six months ago, in which case the year is displayed rather than the hours and minutes.

Unknown devices, as well as nonexistent idle and login times, are displayed as single asterisks.


Produces a multi-line format displaying all of the information described for the -s option as well as the user's home directory, home phone number, login shell, mail status, and the contents of the files ``.plan '' ``.project '' ``.pgpkey '' and ``.forward '' from the user's home directory.

Phone numbers specified as eleven digits are printed as ``+N-NNN-NNN-NNNN''. Numbers specified as ten or seven digits are printed as the appropriate subset of that string. Numbers specified as five digits are printed as ``xN-NNNN''. Numbers specified as four digits are printed as ``xNNNN''.

If write permission is denied to the device, the phrase ``(messages off)'' is appended to the line containing the device name. One entry per user is displayed with the -l option; if a user is logged on multiple times, terminal information is repeated once per login.

Mail status is shown as ``No Mail.'' if there is no mail at all, ``Mail last read DDD MMM ## HH:MM YYYY (TZ)'' if the person has looked at their mailbox since new mail arriving, or ``New mail received ...'', `` Unread since ...'' if they have new mail.


Prevents the -l option of finger from displaying the contents of the ``.plan '' ``.project '' and ``.pgpkey '' files.


Prevent matching of user names. User is usually a login name; however, matching will also be done on the users' real names, unless the -m option is supplied. All name matching performed by finger is case insensitive.

If no options are specified, finger defaults to the -l style output if operands are provided, otherwise to the -s style. Note that some fields may be missing, in either format, if information is not available for them.

If no arguments are specified, finger will print an entry for each user currently logged into the system.

Finger may be used to look up users on a remote machine. The format is to specify a user as ``user@host '' or ``@host '' where the default output format for the former is the -l style, and the default output format for the latter is the -s style. The -l option is the only option that may be passed to a remote machine.

If standard output is a socket, finger will emit a carriage return (^M) before every linefeed (^J). This is for processing remote finger requests when invoked by fingerd(8).  

See Also


Use the man command (% man) to see how a command is used on your particular computer.

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