getopt(3) - SerenityOS man pages


getopt - parse command-line options


#include <getopt.h>

extern int opterr;
extern int optopt;
extern int optind;
extern int optreset;
extern char* optarg;

struct option {
    const char* name;
    int has_arg;
    int* flag;
    int val;

int getopt(int argc, char** argv, const char* short_options);
int getopt_long(int argc, char** argv, const char* short_options, const struct option* long_options, int* out_long_option_index);


getopt() and getopt_long() parse options according to the syntax specified in getopt(5). getopt() only supports short options; getopt_long() supports both short and long options.

One invocation of either function extracts at most one option from command line arguments, which are passed to it as the argc/argv pair, starting from argument at index optind, which is initially set to 1 at program startup.

The short_options string should specify the short options to be recognized, as single characters. If a short option requires a value, it is to be followed by a colon character (:); if a short option optionally accepts a value, it is to be followed by a double colon (::). If the first character in the short_options is +, getopt() and getopt_long() won't look for further options once first non-option argument is encountered.

getopt_long() additionally accepts an array of values describing long options to be recognized. To specify whether a long option has a value, the has_arg member of struct option must be set to one of the following predefined macro values:

If an option is parsed successfully, getopt() and getopt_long() automatically increase the optind variable to point to the next command-line argument to be parsed. This makes it possible to invoke getopt() or getopt_long() in a loop unless they indicate either an error or the end of options, and then treat the remaining command-line arguments, starting from the one pointed to be optind, as non-option argument.

Unless + is specified as the first character of short_options, getopt() and getopt_long() automatically reorder elements of argv to put options and their values before any non-option arguments.

If, after having used getopt() or getopt_long() to parse a set of command-line arguments, the program intends to use the getopt() or getopt_long() to parse a different set of command-line arguments, it must ask getopt() and getopt_long() to reset the internal state that they keep across calls to handle some tricky cases. To do so, the program must either set the optreset variable to a non-zero value, or set optind variable to 0. Doing either of these things will reset the internal state, and option parsing will start from command-line argument at index 1 in either case.

Return value

If no option has been found, getopt() and getopt_long() return -1.

In case some invalid configuration of options and their values are passed in argv, getopt() and getopt_long() return the '?' character. If the error is related to a short option, the variable optopt is set to the option character. If the variable opterr has a non-zero value (as it does by default), an appropriate error message is printed to the standard error stream.

If a short option has been successfully parsed, getopt() and getopt_long() return its character. Its value, if any, is assigned to the optarg variable. If the option has been given no value, optarg is set to nullptr.

If a long option has been successfully parsed, getopt_long() return value depends on the value of the flag pointer for that option. If flag is nullptr, getopt_long() returns the value of val for that option. Otherwise, the pointee of flag is set to val, and getopt_long() returns 0. In either case, the index of the long option in the long_options array is stored to the pointee of out_long_option_index, if it's not a nullptr. Same as for short options, the optarg variable is set to point to the value of the option, or to nullptr is none has been given.


#include <getopt.h>

int verbose = 0;
const char* pad = nullptr;
const char* source = nullptr;

while (true) {
    // Accept short options: -h, -l, -s value, -p [value], -N.
    const char* short_options = "hls:p::N";
    // Accept long options: --pad [value], --verbose.
    const option long_options[] {
        { "pad", optional_argument, nullptr, 'p' },
        { "verbose", no_argument, &verbose, 1 },
    int opt = getopt(argc, argv, short_options, long_options, nullptr);
    switch (opt) {
    case -1:
        // No more options.
        return true;
    case '?':
        // Some error; getopt() has already printed an error message.
    case 'h':
        // Handle the -h option...
    case 'l':
        // Handle the -l option...
    case 's':
        // Handle the -s option.
        source = optarg;
    case 'p':
        // Handle the -p short option or the --pad long option.
        if (optarg)
            pad = optarg;
            pad = ' ';
    case 'N':
        // Handle the -N option.
    case 0:
        // A long option (--verbose) has been parsed, but its
        // effect was setting the verbose variable to 1.

const char* file_name = argv[optind];

See also