Command line options

The list of command line options provided by the PHP binary can be queried at any time by running PHP with the -h switch:

Usage: php [options] [-f] <file> [--] [args...]
   php [options] -r <code> [--] [args...]
   php [options] [-B <begin_code>] -R <code> [-E <end_code>] [--] [args...]
   php [options] [-B <begin_code>] -F <file> [-E <end_code>] [--] [args...]
   php [options] -- [args...]
   php [options] -a

  -a               Run interactively
  -c <path>|<file> Look for php.ini file in this directory
  -n               No php.ini file will be used
  -d foo[=bar]     Define INI entry foo with value 'bar'
  -e               Generate extended information for debugger/profiler
  -f <file>        Parse and execute <file>.
  -h               This help
  -i               PHP information
  -l               Syntax check only (lint)
  -m               Show compiled in modules
  -r <code>        Run PHP <code> without using script tags <?..?>
  -B <begin_code>  Run PHP <begin_code> before processing input lines
  -R <code>        Run PHP <code> for every input line
  -F <file>        Parse and execute <file> for every input line
  -E <end_code>    Run PHP <end_code> after processing all input lines
  -H               Hide any passed arguments from external tools.
  -S <addr>:<port> Run with built-in web server.
  -t <docroot>     Specify document root <docroot> for built-in web server.
  -s               Output HTML syntax highlighted source.
  -v               Version number
  -w               Output source with stripped comments and whitespace.
  -z <file>        Load Zend extension <file>.

  args...          Arguments passed to script. Use -- args when first argument
                   starts with - or script is read from stdin

  --ini            Show configuration file names

  --rf <name>      Show information about function <name>.
  --rc <name>      Show information about class <name>.
  --re <name>      Show information about extension <name>.
  --rz <name>      Show information about Zend extension <name>.
  --ri <name>      Show configuration for extension <name>.

Command line options
Option Long Option Description
-a --interactive

Run PHP interactively. For more information, see the Interactive shell section.

-b --bindpath

Bind Path for external FASTCGI Server mode (CGI only).

-C --no-chdir

Do not chdir to the script's directory (CGI only).

-q --no-header

Quiet-mode. Suppress HTTP header output (CGI only).

-T --timing

Measure execution time of script repeated count times (CGI only).

-c --php-ini

Specifies either a directory in which to look for php.ini, or a custom INI file (which does not need to be named php.ini), e.g.:

$ php -c /custom/directory/ my_script.php

$ php -c /custom/directory/custom-file.ini my_script.php

If this option is not specified, php.ini is searched for in the default locations.

-n --no-php-ini

Ignore php.ini completely.

-d --define

Set a custom value for any of the configuration directives allowed in php.ini. The syntax is:

 -d configuration_directive[=value]

Example #1 Example of using -d to set an INI setting

# Omitting the value part will set the given configuration directive to "1"
$ php -d max_execution_time
        -r '$foo = ini_get("max_execution_time"); var_dump($foo);'
string(1) "1"

# Passing an empty value part will set the configuration directive to ""
php -d max_execution_time=
        -r '$foo = ini_get("max_execution_time"); var_dump($foo);'
string(0) ""

# The configuration directive will be set to anything passed after the '=' character
$  php -d max_execution_time=20
        -r '$foo = ini_get("max_execution_time"); var_dump($foo);'
string(2) "20"
$  php
        -d max_execution_time=doesntmakesense
        -r '$foo = ini_get("max_execution_time"); var_dump($foo);'
string(15) "doesntmakesense"

-e --profile-info

Activate the extended information mode, to be used by a debugger/profiler.

-f --file

Parse and execute the specified file. The -f is optional and may be omitted - providing just the filename to execute is sufficient.

-h and -? --help and --usage Output a list of command line options with one line descriptions of what they do.
-i --info Calls phpinfo(), and prints out the results. If PHP is not working correctly, it is advisable to use the command php -i and see whether any error messages are printed out before or in place of the information tables. Beware that when using the CGI mode the output is in HTML and therefore very large.
-l --syntax-check

Provides a convenient way to perform only a syntax check on the given PHP code. On success, the text No syntax errors detected in <filename> is written to standard output and the shell return code is 0. On failure, the text Errors parsing <filename> in addition to the internal parser error message is written to standard output and the shell return code is set to -1.

This option won't find fatal errors (like undefined functions). Use the -f to test for fatal errors too.


This option does not work together with the -r option.

-m --modules

Example #2 Printing built in (and loaded) PHP and Zend modules

$ php -m
[PHP Modules]

[Zend Modules]

-r --run

Allows execution of PHP included directly on the command line. The PHP start and end tags (<?php and ?>) are not needed and will cause a parse error if present.


Care must be taken when using this form of PHP not to collide with command line variable substitution done by the shell.

Example #3 Getting a syntax error when using double quotes

$ php -r "$foo = get_defined_constants();"
PHP Parse error:  syntax error, unexpected '=' in Command line code on line 1

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '=' in Command line code on line 1

The problem here is that sh/bash performs variable substitution even when using double quotes ". Since the variable $foo is unlikely to be defined, it expands to nothing which results in the code passed to PHP for execution actually reading:

$ php -r " = get_defined_constants();"

The correct way would be to use single quotes '. Variables in single-quoted strings are not expanded by sh/bash.

Example #4 Using single quotes to prevent the shell's variable substitution

$ php -r '$foo = get_defined_constants(); var_dump($foo);'
array(370) {

If using a shell other than sh/bash, further issues might be experienced - if appropriate, a bug report should be opened at » It is still easy to run into trouble when trying to use variables (shell or PHP) in command-line code, or using backslashes for escaping, so take great care when doing so. You have been warned!


-r is available in the CLI SAPI, but not in the CGI SAPI.


This option is only intended for very basic code, so some configuration directives (such as auto_prepend_file and auto_append_file) are ignored in this mode.

-B --process-begin

PHP code to execute before processing stdin.

-R --process-code

PHP code to execute for every input line.

There are two special variables available in this mode: $argn and $argi. $argn will contain the line PHP is processing at that moment, while $argi will contain the line number.

-F --process-file

PHP file to execute for every input line.

-E --process-end

PHP code to execute after processing the input.

Example #5 Using the -B, -R and -E options to count the number of lines of a project.

$ find my_proj | php -B '$l=0;' -R '$l += count(@file($argn));' -E 'echo "Total Lines: $l\n";'
Total Lines: 37328

-S --server

Starts built-in web server.

-t --docroot Specifies document root for built-in web server.
-s --syntax-highlight and --syntax-highlighting

Display colour syntax highlighted source.

This option uses the internal mechanism to parse the file and writes an HTML highlighted version of it to standard output. Note that all it does is generate a block of <code> [...] </code> HTML tags, no HTML headers.


This option does not work together with the -r option.

-v --version

Example #6 Using -v to get the SAPI name and the version of PHP and Zend

$ php -v
PHP 5.3.1 (cli) (built: Dec 11 2009 19:55:07)
Copyright (c) 1997-2009 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.3.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2009 Zend Technologies

-w --strip

Display source with comments and whitespace stripped.


This option does not work together with the -r option.

-z --zend-extension

Load Zend extension. If only a filename is given, PHP tries to load this extension from the current default library path on your system (usually /etc/ on Linux systems, for example). Passing a filename with an absolute path will not use the system's library search path. A relative filename including directory information will tell PHP to try loading the extension relative to the current directory.


Show configuration file names and scanned directories.

Example #7 --ini example

$ php --ini
Configuration File (php.ini) Path: /usr/dev/php/5.2/lib
Loaded Configuration File:         /usr/dev/php/5.2/lib/php.ini
Scan for additional .ini files in: (none)
Additional .ini files parsed:      (none)

--rf --rfunction

Show information about the given function or class method (e.g. number and name of the parameters).

This option is only available if PHP was compiled with Reflection support.

Example #8 basic --rf usage

$ php --rf var_dump
Function [ <internal> public function var_dump ] {

  - Parameters [2] {
    Parameter #0 [ <required> $var ]
    Parameter #1 [ <optional> $... ]

--rc --rclass

Show information about the given class (list of constants, properties and methods).

This option is only available if PHP was compiled with Reflection support.

Example #9 --rc example

$ php --rc Directory
Class [ <internal:standard> class Directory ] {

  - Constants [0] {

  - Static properties [0] {

  - Static methods [0] {

  - Properties [0] {

  - Methods [3] {
    Method [ <internal> public method close ] {

    Method [ <internal> public method rewind ] {

    Method [ <internal> public method read ] {

--re --rextension

Show information about the given extension (list of php.ini options, defined functions, constants and classes).

This option is only available if PHP was compiled with Reflection support.

Example #10 --re example

$ php --re json
Extension [ <persistent> extension #19 json version 1.2.1 ] {

  - Functions {
    Function [ <internal> function json_encode ] {
    Function [ <internal> function json_decode ] {

--rz --rzendextension

Show the configuration information for the given Zend extension (the same information that is returned by phpinfo()).

--ri --rextinfo

Show the configuration information for the given extension (the same information that is returned by phpinfo()). The core configuration information is available using "main" as extension name.

Example #11 --ri example

$ php --ri date


date/time support => enabled
"Olson" Timezone Database Version => 2009.20
Timezone Database => internal
Default timezone => Europe/Oslo

Directive => Local Value => Master Value
date.timezone => Europe/Oslo => Europe/Oslo
date.default_latitude => 59.930972 => 59.930972
date.default_longitude => 10.776699 => 10.776699
date.sunset_zenith => 90.583333 => 90.583333
date.sunrise_zenith => 90.583333 => 90.583333


Options -rBRFEH, --ini and --r[fcezi] are available only in CLI.

add a note

User Contributed Notes 3 notes

8 months ago
If you would like to see the PHP's current configuration using the -i switch from the shell command line with php.ini specified, then the order of arguments is important. Putting -i after -c gives the intended result.

Info is printed out for the default php.ini (cli)
$ php -i --php-ini /etc/php/7.4/fpm/php.ini | grep -i "loaded conf"
Loaded Configuration File => /etc/php/7.4/cli/php.ini

Info is printed out for the desired php.ini (fpm)
$ php --php-ini /etc/php/7.4/fpm/php.ini -i | grep -i "loaded conf"
Loaded Configuration File => /etc/php/7.4/fpm/php.ini
9 years ago
If we start the php's built in webserver (PHP v5.4 onwards) with:
php -S localhost:8000 -t htdocs
and have an image file picture.jpg in it
and reference it in a html page with:
<img src="picture.jpg">
the rendered page will not show the image and the html code behind the image is:

If however, the html code in the page is:
<img src="/picture.jpg">
the picture displays correctly.

Hence relative addressing is broken in PHP 5.4.33 Win32 VC9 build.
yanshinian at yeah dot net
5 years ago
get ./configure

php -i |grep configure

Configure Command => './configure' '--prefix=/app/webserver/php5' '--with-config-file-path=/app/webserver/php5/etc' '--with-config-file-scan-dir=/app/webserver/php5/etc/php.d' '--enable-inline-optimization' '--disable-debug' '--disable-rpath' '--enable-shared' '--enable-opcache' '--enable-fpm' '--with-fpm-user=appuser' '--with-fpm-group=appuser' '--with-mysql=mysqlnd' '--with-mysqli=mysqlnd' '--with-pdo-mysql=mysqlnd' '--with-gettext' '--enable-mbstring' '--enable-exif' '--enable-ftp' '--enable-wddx' '--with-iconv' '--with-mcrypt' '--with-mhash' '--with-openssl' '--enable-bcmath' '--enable-soap' '--with-libxml-dir' '--enable-pcntl' '--enable-shmop' '--enable-sysvmsg' '--enable-sysvsem' '--enable-sysvshm' '--enable-sockets' '--enable-gd-native-ttf' '--enable-gd-jis-conv' '--enable-calendar' '--with-curl=/app/webserver/curl' '--with-zlib' '--enable-zip' '--with-bz2' '--with-readline' '--with-gd' '--with-freetype-dir' '--with-png-dir' '--with-jpeg-dir' '--with-vpx-dir' '--with-xpm-dir' '--with-t1lib' '--disable-json'
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