finger Command


Shows user information. This command is the same as the f command.


{ finger | f }[[ -b][ -h] [ -l][ -p]]|[ -i][ -q][ -s][ -w]]

[ -f][ -m][ User| User @Host| @Host]


The /usr/bin/finger command displays information about the users currently logged in to a host. The format of the output varies with the options for the information presented.

Default Format

The default format includes the following items:

  • Login name
  • Full user name
  • Terminal name
  • Write status (an * (asterisk) before the terminal name indicates that write permission is denied)

For each user on the host, the default information list also includes, if known, the following items:

  • Idle time (Idle time is minutes if it is a single integer, hours and minutes if a : (colon) is present, or days and hours if a "d" is present.)
  • Login time
  • Site-specific information

The site-specific information is retrieved from the gecos field in the /etc/passwd file. The gecos field may contain the Full user name followed by a comma or / (slash character). All information that follows the comma or slash character is displayed by the finger command with the Site-specific information.

Longer Format

A longer format is used by the finger command whenever a list of user's names is given. (Account names as well as first and last names of users are accepted.) This format is multiline, and includes all the information described above along with the following:

  • User's $HOME directory
  • User's login shell
  • Contents of the .plan file in the user's $HOME directory
  • Contents of the .project file in the user's $HOME directory

The finger command may also be used to look up users on a remote system. The format is to specify the user as User@Host. If you omit the user name, the finger command provides the standard format listing on the remote system.

Create the .plan and .project files using your favorite text editor and place the files in your $HOME directory. The finger command uses the toascii subroutine to convert characters outside the normal ASCII character range when displaying the contents of the .plan and .project files. The finger command displays a M- before each converted character.

When you specify users with the User parameter, you can specify either the user's first name, last name, or account name. When you specify users, the finger command, at the specified host, returns information about those users only in long format.

For other information about the finger command, see "Installation of TCP/IP" in Networks and communication management.


Item Description
-b Gives a brief, long-form listing.
-f Suppresses printing of header line on output (the first line that defines the fields that are being displayed).
-h Suppresses printing of .project files on long and brief long formats.
-i Gives a quick listing with idle times.
-l Gives a long-form listing.
-m Assumes that the User parameter specifies a user ID (used for discretionary access control), not a user login name.
-p Suppresses printing of .plan files on long-form and brief long-form formats.
-q Gives a quick listing.
-s Gives a short format list.
-w Gives a narrow, short-format list.


Item Description
@Host Specifies all logged-in users on the remote host.
User Specifies a local user ID (used for discretionary access control) or local user login name, as specified in the /etc/passwd file.
User@Host Specifies a user ID on the remote host, displayed in long format.


  1. To get information about all users logged in to host alcatraz, enter:
    finger @alcatraz
    Information similar to the following is displayed:
    Login     Name        TTY Idle         When      Site Info
    brown    Bob Brown   console   2d   Mar 15 13:19
    smith    Susan Smith    pts0  11:   Mar 15 13:01
    jones    Joe Jones      tty0    3   Mar 15 13:01
    User brown is logged in at the console, user smith is logged in from pseudo teletype line pts0, and user jones is logged in from tty0.
  2. To get information about user brown at alcatraz, enter:
    finger brown@alcatraz
    Information similar to the following is displayed:
    Login name: brown
    Directory: /home/brown    Shell: /home/bin/xinit -L -n Startup
    On since May 8 07:13:49 on console
    No Plan.
  3. To get information about user brown at a local host in short form, enter:
    finger -q brown
    Information similar to the following is displayed:
    Login           TTY              When
    brown           pts/6            Mon Dec1710:58


Item Description
/usr/bin/finger Contains the finger command.
/etc/utmp Contains list of users currently logged in.
/etc/passwd Defines user accounts, names, and home directories.
/etc/security/passwd Defines user passwords.
/var/adm/lastlog Contains last login times.
$HOME/.plan Optional file that contains a one-line description of a user's plan.
$HOME/.project Optional file that contains a user's project assignment.