BASH Programming

How to Redirect stderr to stdout in Bash

Commands in Linux take some input from the user, which could be a file or any attribute, and upon executing, they give some output called standard output. The standard output could be a success output or an error output; both will be displayed on your terminal screen. But in some cases, you want to store standard outputs to a file for testing or debugging of the code. In Linux, these outputs can be redirected to a file, and the process of capturing it called redirection.

Every process In Linux produces three data streams, “stdin,” “stdout,” and “stderr”:

  • stdin: Takes input from the user via keyboard
  • stdout: Displays output on the screen
  • stderr: Shows error information on the screen

Every data stream has a numeric id:

Numeric Id Name
0 stdin
1 stdout
2 stderr

Let’s explain redirection a bit more with detail:

How to redirect Standard output and Standard error in Bash:

To redirect the standard output of the command, we will use “1” with a redirection operator that is greater than the “>” sign:

$ls 1> stdout.txt

The above command will create a file and place the standard output of the “ls” command in the “stdout.txt” file.

To read the “stdout.txt” file, use:

$cat stdout.txt

We can redirect standard error to a file as well by using the command:

$cat myfile.txt 2> stderr.txt

To view the “stderr.txt” file, use:

$cat stderr.txt

Make sure use “2” will greater than the “>” sign. Since there is no “myfile.txt” file in the directory, the “cat” command will give an error that will be appended in the “stderr.txt” file.

These standard outputs can be redirected with a single command also, use:

$ls 1> stdout.txt 2> stderr.txt

The output of the “ls” command will be written in the “stdout.txt” file, but the “stderr.txt” will remain empty because there would be no error.

Now let’s do for “stderr.txt”:

$cat myfile.txt 1> stdout.txt 2> stderr.txt

Use the below-mentioned command to read “stderr.txt.”

$cat stderr.txt

And of course, “stdout.txt” will be empty.


Linux command upon executing gives standard output that could be a success output or an error output. Generally, these outputs cannot be redirected using redirection operators; we need to use specific numeric ids with the “>” sign. In this guide, we learned how to use these numeric keys to redirect standard output to a file with examples.

About the author

Sam U

I am a professional graphics designer with over 6 years of experience. Currently doing research in virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality.
I hardly watch movies but love to read tech related books and articles.