I want a script to curl to a file and to put the status code into a variable (or, at least enable me to test the status code)

I can see I can do it in two calls with e.g.

x=$(curl -sI $url | grep HTTP | grep -oe '\d\d\d')
if [[ $x != 200  ]] ; then
  echo "$url SAID $x" ; return
curl $url # etc ...

but presumably there's a way to avoid the redundant extra call?

$? doesn't help: status code 404 still gets an return code of 0

  • 1
    curl -v will give you the header and body.
    – jesse_b
    Mar 11, 2020 at 22:39
  • 3
    Use --output to write the content to a (temporary) file, and --write-out to output things like HTTP status. man curl is your friend.
    – 9000
    Mar 11, 2020 at 23:09
  • Ah yes, using both --write-out and --output together gives me 2 separate outputs so something like x=$(curl -s https://www.gitignore.io/api/404 --write-out '%{http_code}' -o o.txt) would do it. Yes, thanks. Mar 11, 2020 at 23:59
  • curl -v would give me a load more stuff to process, like stripping out the tracing of the connection handshake etc? Mar 12, 2020 at 0:02
  • Crossdupes stackoverflow.com/questions/38906626/… and stackoverflow.com/questions/54038132/… (although probably now considered offtopic) and superuser.com/questions/272265/… Oct 13, 2023 at 2:45

3 Answers 3



response=$(curl -s -w "%{http_code}" $URL)

http_code=$(tail -n1 <<< "$response")  # get the last line
content=$(sed '$ d' <<< "$response")   # get all but the last line which contains the status code

echo "$http_code"
echo "$content"

(There are other ways like --write-out to a temporary file. But my example does not need to touch the disk to write any temporary file and remembering to delete it; everything is done in RAM)

  • thanks I hadn't noticed that using -w still emits the full response first then the -w parameter output Mar 13, 2020 at 14:28
  • 11
    Almost! on my system (OSX) i needed a newline before http_code "'\n%{http_code}'%{http_code}" Jun 5, 2020 at 19:19
  • 1
    The newline was missing for me too. But this worked: http_code=${response: -3} # get the last 3 digits and content=$(echo ${response} | head -c-4) # get all but the last 3 digits Jun 9, 2021 at 7:06
  • 1
    add -L option to curl due to gitignore.io redirection to toptal.com/developers/gitignore
    – froque
    Jul 23, 2021 at 10:19

Using --write-out and a temporary file got me to :


  code=$(curl -s $url --write-out '%{http_code}' -o $tempfile)

  if [[ $code != 200  ]] ; then
    echo "$url SAID $code"
    rm -f $tempfile
    return $code
  mv $tempfile $target
  • if curl failed, ur temporary file will be filled up a lot and can crash your site.
    – MaXi32
    Dec 12, 2022 at 16:55

Since curl 7.76.0 there is an option to do this without the extra call, --fall-with-body

curl -sI --fail-with-body $url

Curl will fail with code 22 if the request returns any HTTP status code above 400 but will return the body regardless the status code.

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