STRINGS(1) BSD General Commands Manual STRINGS(1)NAME
strings — find printable strings in a file
strings [-afo] [-n number] [file ...]
Strings displays the sequences of printable characters in each of the
specified files, or in the standard input, by default. By default, a
sequence must be at least four characters in length before being dis‐
The options are as follows:
-a By default, strings only searches the text and data segments of
object files. The -a option causes strings to search the entire
-f Each string is preceded by the name of the file in which it was
-n Specifies the minimum number of characters in a sequence to be
number, instead of four.
-o Each string is preceded by its decimal offset in the file.
Strings is useful for identifying random binaries, among other things.
The algorithm for identifying strings is extremely primitive. In partic‐
ular, machine code instructions on certain architectures can resemble
sequences of ASCII bytes, which will fool the algorithm.
Historic implementations of strings only search the initialized data por‐
tion of the object file. This was reasonable as strings were normally
stored there. Given new compiler technology which installs strings in
the text portion of the object file, the default behavior was changed.
The strings command appeared in 3.0BSD.
3rd Berkeley Distribution June 6, 1993 3rd Berkeley Distribution