Skip to content
Home » Master Verbose Mode for More Insightful Command Line Use

Master Verbose Mode for More Insightful Command Line Use

TLDR; Verbose mode in the CLI can be enabled by using an appropriate command-line option (e.g. v for tar). It is useful for debugging, understanding commands, and troubleshooting scripts and automation. Verbose mode is supported by many Unix commands, package managers, and build systems. It is important to understand the level of verbosity, when to use it and when not to, and to store verbose output for later analysis. Verbose mode is a valuable tool for the CLI.

How to Enable Verbose Mode

Enabling verbose mode for a specific command is typically done by using a command-line option. For example, the tar command has a -v option for verbose mode:

tar -cvf archive.tar file1 file2

In the above example, the -v option enables verbose mode, and the output will show a detailed list of the files being added to the archive.

It’s important to note that different commands may have different options for enabling verbose mode. Be sure to check the documentation for the specific command you are using to determine the correct option for enabling verbose mode.

Use Cases for Verbose Mode

Verbose mode is useful in a number of different scenarios, including:

  • Debugging errors and problems: When a command fails to execute as expected, verbose mode can provide additional information about what went wrong.
  • Understanding the process and actions taken by a command: Verbose mode can help users understand the steps taken by a command, which can be especially useful when using complex commands or scripts.
  • Troubleshooting issues with scripts and automation: Verbose mode can provide extra information about the execution of scripts and automate processes, making it easier to identify and resolve issues.

Examples of Commands That Support Verbose Mode

Many common Unix commands, such as tar, cp, and rm, support verbose mode. Package managers, such as apt and dnf, also have verbose mode options. Build systems, such as make and cmake, also have options for enabling verbose mode.

Best Practices for Using Verbose Mode

When using verbose mode, it’s important to consider the following best practices:

  • Understanding the level of verbosity: Different commands may have different levels of verbosity, so it’s important to understand the level of detail provided by the verbose output.
  • Knowing when to use verbose mode and when not to: While verbose mode can be helpful in many situations, it can also generate a lot of information that may not be relevant. Consider when verbose mode is necessary and when it’s not.
  • Storing verbose output for later analysis: When debugging issues or analyzing the actions taken by a command, it can be useful to store the verbose output for later reference. This can be done by redirecting the output to a file or using a logging system.


Verbose mode in the command line is a powerful feature that can help users better understand their commands. But it’s important to use it carefully, following best practices such as understanding the level of verbosity and storing verbose output. So next time you need extra info, remember verbose mode is just an option away.

Challenge: Use verbose mode to debug a script that is failing to execute correctly.

  1. Identify the script: Determine the location of the script that is failing to execute correctly.
  2. Run the script with verbose mode: Enable verbose mode for the script by using the appropriate command-line option. In most cases, this will be v. For example: ./ -v.
  3. Analyze the verbose output: Carefully review the verbose output to identify any errors or problems that may be causing the script to fail. Pay attention to any error messages, as well as the steps taken by the script.
  4. Identify the root cause: Use the information from the verbose output to determine the root cause of the problem. This may involve reviewing the script code, checking file permissions, or verifying dependencies.
  5. Fix the problem: Once you have identified the root cause, make the necessary changes to the script to resolve the problem.
  6. Re-run the script: After making changes to the script, re-run it to verify that it is now executing correctly.
  7. Verify the output: Verify that the output of the script is correct and that the problem has been resolved.


  • It may be helpful to redirect the verbose output to a file for later analysis. For example: ./ -v > output.log.
  • When reviewing the verbose output, look for patterns or recurring issues that may be indicative of a larger problem.
  • Be patient and thorough when analyzing the verbose output. Small details can often make a big difference in resolving the problem.
  • If you are still having trouble, consider seeking help from others, such as forums or online communities.

What’s Next?

Here are a few related topics that might interest you:

  1. Debugging Scripts with set -x
  2. Art of Troubleshooting in IT: Isolate, Fix & Document

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × 4 =