This question concerns the yes command found in UNIX and Linux machines: Basically, what is the point (if any) and history of this tool? Are there practical applications for it? Can an example be shown where it is useful in a script or chained (via pipe or redirect) with another tool?

The manpage is below:

YES(1)                    BSD General Commands Manual                   YES(1)

     yes -- be repetitively affirmative

     yes [expletive]

     yes outputs expletive, or, by default, ``y'', forever.

     The yes command appeared in 4.0BSD.

4th Berkeley Distribution        June 6, 1993        4th Berkeley Distribution

Sample output:

$ yes why
  • 3
    Stumbled upon this when I thought I had received a "yes" dialogue but really I had be kicked out the prompt. Surprise! yes yes yes yes yes yes yes ...
    – Jacksonkr
    Apr 6, 2016 at 16:51

3 Answers 3


It's usually used as a quick and dirty way to provide answers to an interactive script:

yes | rm -r large_directory

will not prompt you about any file being removed. Of course in the case of rm, you can always supply -f to make it steamroll the directory removal, but not all tools are so forgiving.


A more relevant example of this that I recently came across is when you are fscking a filesystem and you don't want to bother answering y when prompted before fixing each error:

yes | fsck /dev/foo
  • 5
    Does that mean that the yes output would cease once the rm is completed? Nov 25, 2013 at 8:23
  • 21
    @JarydMalbin, yes, because that's the default behavior of SIGPIPE.
    – cjm
    Nov 25, 2013 at 8:25
  • 4
    @JarydMalbin Yes it does. When rm stops reading from the pipe (read: completes), yes gets a SIGPIPE as in cjm's comment
    – Joseph R.
    Nov 25, 2013 at 8:26
  • 1
    According to the manual, fsck -y /dev/foo should do the same on some file systems. Most I'd say: the manual notes exceptions for minix and cramfs. Nov 5, 2016 at 11:16

Beside the main point mentioned in the previous answer the yes command can also be used to test high loads of CPU on a system. yes creates a process which acts as a dummy CPU loader and results in 100% processor usage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_(Unix)


When updating ports on a FreeBSD workstation, using portmaster + yes becomes very handy:

yes | portmaster -da

That way you can let the machine update while you lunch and all the questions fill default to 'y,yes'

When rebuilding the world for 'make delete-old' and 'make delete-old-libs'.

this is a big time saver:

yes | make delete-old


yes | make delete-old-libs

Basically helps you to avoid typing / confirm certain operations that ask for a 'y' or 'yes'

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