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Anish De
Anish De

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

5 Modern CLI tools that help boost your productivity

As developers, most of us use the terminal to interact with our computers for many tasks as we find it more productive. We are familiar with commands like ls, cd, cat, grep, and find. These are primarily pre-installed on our computers and mostly get the job done hence, we never consider looking for any alternatives.

But, today we are going to look at 5 alternatives that accomplish the same task but are more feature-rich, faster, and cleaner. Coincidentally, these are all written in the rust programming language.


bat is a popular alternative for the cat command, just with a ton of more features. So, what are they?

Syntax highlighting

bat automatically provides syntax highlighting for all major programming languages.

Line numbers

This might not be a big one but bat shows line numbers, and I have found it extremely useful.




We can use / and then enter a query (can be regex) to perform a search operation. This is similar to how it is done in vim, and yes, it supports vim keybindings like n to go to the next result and N to go to the previous result.


zoxide behaves like cd at first glance but it has 1 feature which makes it a game-changer. How cool would it be if you did not have to specify the path to a directory every time you wanted to change into it? Zoxide stores paths in a db, and the next time you use it, you can just specify the directory name instead of the full path. Here it is in action (z is the default alias for zoxide) -


You can also use the zi command to interactively select previous paths using fzf -



exa is a modern replacement for the ls command but with more features. First of all, it supports colors and icons (I have aliased ls to exa --icons --color=always) -


This makes distinguishing folders and files extremely easy and the icons are just a great touch. Also, the list view (pass in the -l to see it in the list view) is way cleaner.

Exa also comes with a handy tree feature -


Here, -T is for displaying it as a tree. The --git-ignore flag ignores files and folders mentioned in the .gitignore ignore file.


fd is an alternative to the find command packed with features and is also extremely fast.


The first argument is the term we want to search and any other arguments after that will be directories to search in.

We can also specify an extension with the -e flag -



ripgrep is an alternative to the grep command and the main highlight is its speed. It also automatically ignores files specified in ignore files like .gitignore and .ignore.


Yes, that took just 20 milliseconds!

Ripgrep comes with many other features too, like searching in specific file types and searching inside zips.


Here, we can specify the file type using the -t flag.

BONUS: tealdeer

tealdeer is an alternative to the tldr tool. Both accomplish the same task, that is, showing community-driven help/man pages which are easier to read and understand than the traditional, detailed ones. Here is an example for exa -


Tealdeer installs as tldr and hence tldr is the command and not tealdeer.


I hope you have found this article useful and that it helped boost your productivity. You can leave any suggestions via comments or you can dm them to me on Twitter :)

Top comments (6)

ccoveille profile image
Christophe Colombier • Edited

I would add delta, the git diff helper

GitHub logo dandavison / delta

A syntax-highlighting pager for git, diff, and grep output


CI Coverage Status Gitter

Get Started

Install it (the package is called "git-delta" in most package managers, but the executable is just delta) and add this to your ~/.gitconfig:

    pager = delta

    diffFilter = delta --color-only
    useBuiltin = false # required for git 2.37.0

    navigate = true    # use n and N to move between diff sections
    light = false      # set to true if you're in a terminal w/ a light background color (e.g. the default macOS terminal)

    conflictstyle = diff3

    colorMoved = default
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Delta has many features and is very customizable; please see the user manual.


  • Language syntax highlighting with the same syntax-highlighting themes as bat
  • Word-level diff highlighting using a Levenshtein edit inference algorithm
  • Side-by-side view with line-wrapping
  • Line numbering
  • n and N keybindings to move between…

This one was really a life changer for me

anishde12020 profile image
Anish De

This one looks good, will try using it :D

ccoveille profile image
Christophe Colombier • Edited

I agree with you.

It reminds me this good list

GitHub logo ibraheemdev / modern-unix

A collection of modern/faster/saner alternatives to common unix commands.

Modern Unix


A cat clone with syntax highlighting and Git integration.


A modern replacement for ls.


The next gen file listing command. Backwards compatible with ls.


A viewer for git and diff output


A more intuitive version of du written in rust.


A better df alternative


A new way to see and navigate directory trees


A simple, fast and user-friendly alternative to find.


An extremely fast alternative to grep that respects your gitignore


A code searching tool similar to ack, but faster.


A general purpose command-line fuzzy finder.


Fly through your shell history. Great Scott!


A human-friendly and fast alternative to cut and (sometimes) awk


sed for JSON data.


An intuitive find & replace CLI (sed alternative).


Create and view interactive cheatsheets on the command-line.



anishde12020 profile image
Anish De

Thanks for sharing!