Manual Reference Pages  - PGREP (1)


pgrep, pkill - look up or signal processes based on name and other attributes




pgrep [options] pattern
pkill [options] pattern


pgrep looks through the currently running processes and lists the process IDs which matches the selection criteria to stdout. All the criteria have to match. For example,
$ pgrep -u root sshd
will only list the processes called sshd AND owned by root. On the other hand,
$ pgrep -u root,daemon
will list the processes owned by root OR daemon.

pkill will send the specified signal (by default SIGTERM) to each process instead of listing them on stdout.


  --signal signal Defines the signal to send to each matched process. Either the numeric or the symbolic signal name can be used. (pkill only.)
-c, --count
  Suppress normal output; instead print a count of matching processes. When count does not match anything, e.g. returns zero, the command will return non-zero value. (pgrep only.)
-d, --delimeter delimiter
  Sets the string used to delimit each process ID in the output (by default a newline). (pgrep only.)
-f, --full The pattern is normally only matched against the process name. When -f is set, the full command line is used.
-g, --pgroup pgrp,...
  Only match processes in the process group IDs listed. Process group 0 is translated into pgrep’s or pkill’s own process group.
-G, --group gid,...
  Only match processes whose real group ID is listed. Either the numerical or symbolical value may be used.
-l, --list-name
  List the process name as well as the process ID. (pgrep only.)
-n, --newest
  Select only the newest (most recently started) of the matching processes.
-o, --oldest
  Select only the oldest (least recently started) of the matching processes.
-P, --parent ppid,...
  Only match processes whose parent process ID is listed.
-s, --session sid,...
  Only match processes whose process session ID is listed. Session ID 0 is translated into pgrep’s or pkill’s own session ID.
-t, --terminal term,...
  Only match processes whose controlling terminal is listed. The terminal name should be specified without the "/dev/" prefix.
-u, --euid euid,...
  Only match processes whose effective user ID is listed. Either the numerical or symbolical value may be used.
-U, --uid uid,...
  Only match processes whose real user ID is listed. Either the numerical or symbolical value may be used.
-v, --inverse
  Negates the matching. This option usually used in pgrep context. In pkill context the short option is disabled to avoid accidental usage of the option.
-x, --exact
  Only match processes whose name (or command line if -f is specified) exactly match the pattern.
-F, --pidfile file
  Read PID’s from file. This option is perhaps more useful for pkill than pgrep.
-L, --logpidfile
  Fail if pidfile (see -F) not locked.
-V, --version
  Display version information and exit.
-h, --help Display help and exit.


  Specifies an Extended Regular Expression for matching against the process names or command lines.


Example 1: Find the process ID of the named daemon:
$ pgrep -u root named
Example 2: Make syslog reread its configuration file:
$ pkill -HUP syslogd
Example 3: Give detailed information on all xterm processes:
$ ps -fp $(pgrep -d, -x xterm)
Example 4: Make all netscape processes run nicer:
$ renice +4 $(pgrep netscape)


0 One or more processes matched the criteria.
1 No processes matched.
2 Syntax error in the command line.
3 Fatal error: out of memory etc.


The process name used for matching is limited to the 15 characters present in the output of /proc/pid/stat. Use the -f option to match against the complete command line, /proc/pid/cmdline.

The running pgrep or pkill process will never report itself as a match.


The options -n and -o and -v can not be combined. Let me know if you need to do this.

Defunct processes are reported.


ps(1), regex(7), signal(7), killall(1), skill(1), kill(1), kill(2)


pkill and pgrep were introduced in Sun’s Solaris 7. This implementation is fully compatible.


Kjetil Torgrim Homme


Please send bug reports to

procps-ng PGREP (1) September 2011
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