read [ -rszpqAclneE ] [ -t [ num ] ] [ -k [ num ] ] [ -d delim ] [ -u n ] [ name[?prompt] ] [ name ... ]

Read one line and break it into fields using the characters in $IFS as separators, except as noted below. The first field is assigned to the first name, the second field to the second name, and so on, with leftover fields assigned to the last name. If name is omitted then REPLY is used for scalars and reply for arrays.

Option Description


Raw mode: a \ at the end of a line does not signify line continuation and backslashes in the line don't quote the following character and are not removed.


Don't echo back characters if reading from the terminal. Currently does not work with the -q option.


Read only one character from the terminal and set name to y if this character was y or Y and to n otherwise. With this flag set the return value is zero only if the character was y or Y. Note that this always reads from the terminal, even if used with the -p or -u or -z flags or with redirected input. This option may also be used within zle widgets.


Read only one (or num) characters. All are assigned to the first name, without word splitting. This flag is ignored when -q is present. Input is read from the terminal unless one of -u or -p is present. This option may also be used within zle widgets.


Read one entry from the editor buffer stack and assign it to the first name, without word splitting. Text is pushed onto the stack with print -z or with push-line from the line editor. This flag is ignored when the -k or -q flags are present.


The first name is taken as the name of an array and all words are assigned to it.


Together with -c, the number of the word the cursor is on is read. With -l, the index of the character the cursor is on is read. Note that the command name is word number 1, not word 0, and that when the cursor is at the end of the line, its character index is the length of the line plus one.

-u n

Input is read from file descriptor n.

-d delim

Input is terminated by the first character of delim instead of by newline.

-t [ num ]

Test if input is available before attempting to read. If num is present, it must begin with a digit and will be evaluated to give a number of seconds, which may be a floating point number; in this case the read times out if input is not available within this time. If num is not present, it is taken to be zero, so that read returns immediately if no input is available. If no input is available, return status 1 and do not set any variables.

This option is not available when reading from the editor buffer with -z, when called from within completion with -c or -l, with -q which clears the input queue before reading, or within zle where other mechanisms should be used to test for input.

Note: read does not attempt to alter the input processing mode. The default mode is canonical input, in which an entire line is read at a time, so usually read -t will not read anything until an entire line has been typed. However, when reading from the terminal with -k input is processed one key at a time; in this case, only availability of the first character is tested, for example read -t -k 2 can still block on the second character. Use two instances of read -t -k if this is not what is wanted.


If the first argument contains a ?, the remainder of this word is used as a prompt on standard error when the shell is interactive.

The value (exit status) of read is 1 when an end-of-file is encountered, or as described for -q. Otherwise the value is 0.

The behavior of some combinations of the -k, -p, -q, -u and -z flags is undefined. Presently -q cancels all the others, -p cancels -u, -k cancels -z, and otherwise -z cancels both -p and -u.

Note: The Symbian platform does not support the use of -c or -l option.