How to Merge Two Files in Linux

Linux is a robust operating system well-known for its adaptability and efficient command-line interface. Merging files is an essential task Linux users encounter frequently. Merging files is the process of integrating the contents of multiple files into a single, unified file.

In this article, we will investigate various methods for efficiently merging files in Linux.

Understanding File Merging in Linux 

Before diving into specific commands, it’s essential to understand the two primary types of files we can merge: text files and binary files.

Combining Text Files

Text files contain plain text, and typically, merging them entails concatenating their contents. Concatenation is the procedure of joining files end-to-end to form one continuous file.

Merging Binary Files

In contrast, binary files comprise data in a non-textual format. Merging binary files is more difficult than merging text files, as simple concatenation can result in data corruption.

The cat Command for Combining Text Files

Linux’s ‘cat’ command is a simple and frequently used utility for merging text files. To consolidate two text files using ‘cat,’ the following syntax may be used:

cat file1.txt file2.txt > merged_file.txt

This command will merge the contents of ‘file1.txt’ and ‘file2.txt’ into a new file titled’merged_file.txt.’

Appending Files: Use the ‘>>’ redirection operator to append the contents of one file to the end of another.

cat file1.txt >> file2.txt

This will append the contents of ‘file1.txt’ to ‘file2.txt.’

Redirecting Output to a New File: Additionally, you can combine multiple files and redirect the output to a new file:

cat file1.txt file2.txt file3.txt > all_files.txt

Using Sort Command for Sorted Merging

If you wish to merge sorted files while maintaining their sort order, the sort command is useful.

sort file1.txt file2.txt > sorted_merged.txt

Combining Files Using the ‘paste’ Command

The ‘paste’ command is designed specifically for horizontally integrating text files.

paste file1.txt file2.txt > merged.txt

Line-by-Line Merging with the ‘paste’ and ‘pr’ Commands
The ‘paste’ command horizontally combines files by joining lines side by side. If you wish to consolidate files line by line, however, you can use the ‘pr’ command:

pr -m -t file1.txt file2.txt > merged_lines.txt

Merging Binary Files with dd Command

Avoiding data corruption requires caution when merging binary files. The ‘dd’ command is employed for low-level operations and can be used to combine binary files.

dd if=file1.bin of=file2.bin conv=notrunc

Managing Conflicts in Merging: If the same section of a file is modified differentially in two files being merged, a conflict may occur during the merging process. Frequently, manual intervention is necessary to resolve these conflicts.

Shell Scripts for Automating Merging Files: Shell scripts can be used to streamline the process of file merging by automating repetitive duties.


Merging files is a common operation in Linux, and there are numerous efficient methods for performing this operation. The ‘cat,”sort,’ ‘paste,’ ‘pr,’ and ‘dd’ commands provide effective methods for merging text and binary files. By mastering these techniques, Linux users can more efficiently manage their files and save time when combining data from multiple sources.

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