Skip to main content

The `id` Command in Linux: An In-Depth Guide

The id command in Linux is a powerful tool that provides critical information related to user identity and group affiliation. Understanding this command and its various options is essential for both Linux administrators and general users. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on what the id command is, how it works, and how to use it effectively.

What is the id Command?

The id command displays the user and group information for a specified username or the current user when executed without any arguments. This includes the user ID (UID), group ID (GID), and the groups to which the user belongs.

Basic Syntax

The most straightforward way to use the id command is to type id in the terminal:


When run without any arguments, id will display details for the current user. You can also specify a username as an argument to get information for that particular user:

id [username]

Output Explanation

Here's a sample output for a user named alice:

uid=1001(alice) gid=1001(alice) groups=1001(alice),27(sudo),100(users)

In this example, the output shows:

  • uid=1001(alice): The UID of the user alice is 1001.
  • gid=1001(alice): The primary GID of alice is also 1001.
  • groups=1001(alice),27(sudo),100(users): alice is a member of groups with IDs 1001, 27, and 100, which correspond to alice, sudo, and users, respectively.

Useful Options

The id command comes with several options to customize the output or obtain specific information:

  • -u: Display only the effective user ID.
  • -g: Display only the effective group ID.
  • -G: Display all group IDs.
  • -n: Show names instead of numbers for the -u, -g, and -G options.
--user-uDisplay only the effective user ID (UID).
--group-gDisplay only the effective group ID (GID).
--groups-GDisplay all the group IDs that the user is a part of.
--name-nDisplay the names instead of the numeric IDs when used with -u, -g, or -G.
--real-rDisplay the real ID instead of the effective ID.
--zero-zDelimit entries with NUL characters instead of whitespace.
--helpDisplay a help message and exit.
--versionDisplay version information and exit.

Note that some of these options can be combined for more specific queries. For example, id -Gn will show all the group names the user is a part of, while id -u -n will show the effective username.


Here are some examples using these options:

  1. Display Only User ID

    id -u
  2. Display Only Group ID

    id -g
  3. Display All Group IDs

    id -G
  4. Display All Group Names

    id -Gn

Real-world Applications

For System Administrators:

  1. User Verification: Quickly confirm the identity and group membership of users.
  2. Scripting: Extract user or group IDs programmatically for various administrative scripts.
  3. Security Audits: Use the id command as part of a broader strategy for auditing system security, checking for unauthorized or misplaced group memberships.

For General Users:

  1. Group Membership: Determine the groups to which you belong, which can be useful when setting file permissions.
  2. Debugging: Diagnose and resolve issues related to user permissions and group memberships.


The id command in Linux is a versatile and informative tool that serves various purposes from basic user identification to more complex system administration tasks. Learning to use the id command effectively can save time, enhance your scripts, and help in troubleshooting and security auditing. It's an essential command that every Linux user and administrator should be familiar with.

What Can You Do Next 🙏😊

If you liked the article, consider subscribing to Cloudaffle, my YouTube Channel, where I keep posting in-depth tutorials and all edutainment stuff for software developers.

YouTube @cloudaffle