Content-type: text/html Man page of ldapsearch


Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: 6 Jan 2006
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ldapsearch - ldap search tool  


ldapsearch [-n] [-u] [-v] [-t] [-A] [-B] [-L] [-R] [-H] [-?] [-t] [-T] [-B] [-E] [-J] [-e] [-l] [-Z] [-r] [-M] [-d debuglevel] [-F sep] [-f file] [-D bindDN] [-j filename] [-V version] [-Y proxyDN] [-O hopLimit] [-i locale] [-k path] [-S  [-attribute] [-C pattern] [-c authzid] [-P path] [-N certificate] [-w passwd] [-h ldaphost] [-p ldapport] [-o attributename=value] [-b searchbase] [-s scope] [-a deref] [-l timelimit] [-z sizelimit] filter [attrs...]  


The ldapsearch utility opens a connection to an LDAP server, binds, and performs a search using the filter filter.

If ldapsearch finds one or more entries, the attributes specified by attrs are retrieved and the entries and values are printed to standard output. If no attrs are listed, all attributes are returned.  

Output Format

If one or more entries are found, each entry is written to standard output in the form:

dn: Distinguished Name (DN)
        attributename: value
        attributename: value
        attributename: value

Multiple entries are separated with a single blank line. If the -F option is used to specify a different separator character, this character is used instead of the : character. If the -t option is used, the name of a temporary file is returned in place of the actual value. If the -A option is given, only the "attributename" is returned and not the attribute value.  


The following options are supported:


Retrieve attributes only (no values). This is useful when you just want to see whether an attribute is present in an entry and are not interested in the specific value.

-a deref

Specify how aliases dereferencing is done. The possible values for deref are never, always, search, or find to specify respectively that aliases are never dereferenced, always dereferenced, dereferenced when searching, or dereferenced only when finding the base object for the search. The default is to never dereference aliases.


Display non-ASCII values and use the old non-LDIF format. This option disables the default -L option.

-b searchbase

Use searchbase as the starting point for the search instead of the default.

-C pattern

Persistent search. Perform a search that keeps the connection open and displays results whenever entries matching the scope and filter of the search are added, modified, or removed. With this option, the ldapsearch tool runs indefinitely; you must type Control-c to stop it. The pattern has the following format:


-c authzid

Specifies the getEffectiveRights control authzid. For example:


-D bindDN

Use the distinguished name bindDN to bind to the directory.

-d debuglevel

Set the LDAP debugging level. Useful levels of debugging for ldapsearch are:

1 Trace

2 Packets

4 Arguments

32 Filters

128 Access control

To request more than one category of debugging information, add the masks. For example, to request trace and filter information, specify a debuglevel of 33.


Ask server to expose (report) bind identity by means of authentication response control.


Minimize base-64 encoding of values.

-F sep

Use sep as the field separator between attribute names and values. If this option has been specified, the -L option is ignored.

-f file

Read a series of lines from file, performing one LDAP search for each line. In this case, the filter given on the command line is treated as a pattern where the first occurrence of %s is replaced with a line from file. If file is a single - character, then the lines are read from standard input.

-G pattern

Virtual list view. Retrieve only a portion of all results, as determined by the index or value of the search target and the number of entries to be returned before and after the target. This option always requires the -S and -x options to specify the sorting order on the server.


Display the usage help text that briefly describes all options.


Display the usage help text that briefly describes all options.

-h ldaphost

Specify an alternate host on which the secure LDAP server is running.

-i locale

Specify the character set to use for command-line input. The default is the character set specified in the LANG environment variable. You might want to use this option to perform the conversion from the specified character set to UTF8, thus overriding the LANG setting. Using this argument, you can input the bind DN, base DN, and the search filter pattern in the specified character set. The ldapsearch tool converts the input from these arguments before it processes the search request. For example, -i no indicates that the bind DN, base DN, and search filter are provided in Norwegian. This argument only affects the command-line input. If you specify a file containing a search filter (with the -f option), ldapsearch does not convert the data in the file.

-j filename

Specify a file containing the password for the bind DN or the password for the SSL client's key database. To protect the password, use this option in scripts and place the password in a secure file. This option is mutually exclusive of the -w and -W options.

-J [:criticality[:value|::b64value|b64value|:fileurl]]

Criticality is a boolean value (default is false).

-k path

Specify the path to a directory containing conversion routines. These routines are used if you want to specify a locale that is not supported by default by your directory server. This is for NLS support.


 Display search results in LDIF format. This option also turns on the -B option. This behavior is the default. 

-l timelimit

Wait at most timelimit seconds for a search to complete.


Manage smart referrals. When they are the target of the operation, search the entry containing the referral instead of the entry obtained by following the referral.

-N certificate

Specify the certificate name to use for certificate-based client authentication. For example: -N "Directory-Cert".


Show what would be done, but do not actually perform the search. Useful in conjunction with -v and -d for debugging.

-O hopLimit

Specify the maximum number of referral hops to follow while finding an entry to modify. By default, there is no limit.

-o attributename=value

For SASL mechanisms and other options such as security properties, mode of operation, authorization ID, authentication ID, and so forth.

The different attribute names and their values are as follows:


For defining SASL security properties.


Specifies SASL realm (default is realm=none).


Specify the authorization ID name for SASL bind.


Specify the authentication ID for SASL bind.


Specifies the various SASL mechanisms.

-P path

Specify the path and filename of the client's certificate database. For example:

-P /home/uid/.netscape/cert7.db

When using the command on the same host as the directory server, you can use the server's own certificate database. For example:

-P installDir/lapd-serverID/alias/cert7.db

Use the -P option alone to specify server authentication only.

-p ldapport

Specify an alternate TCP port where the secure LAPD server is listening.


Do not automatically follow referrals returned while searching.


Display the output of the ldapsearch command in the old format.

-S [-]attribute

Specify an attribute for sorting the entries returned by the search. The sort criteria is alphabetical on the attribute's value or reverse alphabetical with the form -attribute. You can give multiple -S options to refine the sorting, For example:

-S sn -S givenname

By default, the entries are not sorted. Use the -x option to perform server-side sorting.

-s scope

Specify the scope of the search. The possible values of scope are base, one, or sub to specify respectively a base object, one-level, or subtree search. The default is sub.


Format the output of search results so that no line breaks are used within individual attribute values.


Write retrieved values to a set of temporary files. This is useful for dealing with non-ASCII values such as jpegPhoto or audio.


URL format (valid only with the -t option). When using temporary file output, the standard output of the tool includes the URL of the file instead of the attributes value. For example:

jpegPhoto:< file:/tmp/ldapsearch-jpegPhoto-YzaOMh


Include the user-friendly form of the Distinguished Name (DN) in the output.

-V version

Specify the LDAP protocol version number to be used for the delete operation, either 2 or 3. LDAP v3 is the default. Specify LDAP v2 when connecting to servers that do not support v3.


Run in verbose mode, with diagnostics written to standard output.

-W password

Specify the password for the client's key database given in the -P option. This option is required for certificate-based client authentication. Specifying password on the command line has security issues because the password can be seen by others on the system by means of the ps command. Use the -j instead to specify the password from the file. This option is mutually exclusive of -j.

-w passwd

Use passwd as the password for authentication to the directory. When you use -w passwd to specify the password to be used for authentication, the password is visible to other users of the system by means of the ps command, in script files or in shell history. If you use the ldapsearch command without this option, the command prompts for the password and read it from standard in. When used without the -w option, the password is not visible to other users.


Use with the -S option to specify that search results be sorted on the server rather than by the ldapsearch command running on the client. This is useful if you want to sort according to a matching rule, as with an international search. It is usually faster to sort on the server, if that is supported, rather than on the client.

-Y proxyDN

Specify the proxy DN (proxied authorization id) to use for the modify operation, usually in double quotes (" ") for the shell.


Specify that SSL be used to provide certificate-based client authentication. This option requires the -N and SSL password and any other of the SSL options needed to identify the certificate and the key database.

-z sizelimit

Retrieve at most sizelimit entries for a search to complete.



Example 1: Performing a Subtree Search

The following command performs a subtree search (using the default search base) for entries with a commonName of "mark smith". The commonName and telephoneNumber values is retrieved and printed to standard output. Use the -r option to display this output in the old format.

example% ldapsearch "cn=mark smith" cn telephoneNumber

The output looks something like this:

dn: Mark D Smith, ou=Sales, ou=Atlanta, ou=People, o=XYZ, c=US
cn: Mark Smith
cn: Mark David Smith
cn: Mark D Smith 1
cn: Mark D Smith
telephoneNumber: +1 123 456-7890

dn: Mark C Smith, ou=Distribution, ou=Atlanta, ou=People, o=XYZ, c=US
cn: Mark Smith
cn: Mark C Smith 1
cn: Mark C Smith
telephoneNumber: +1 123 456-9999

Example 2: Performing a Subtree Search Using the Default Search Base

The following command performs a subtree search using the -r option to display in old style format with a default search base for entries with user id of mcs. The user-friendly form of the entry's DN is output after the line that contains the DN itself, and the jpegPhoto and audio values are retrieved and written to temporary files.

ldapsearch -r -u -t "uid=mcs" -r jpegPhoto audio

The output might look like this if one entry with one value for each of the requested attributes is found:

cn=Mark C Smith, ou=Distribution, ou=Atlanta, ou=People, o=XYZ, c=US
Mark C Smith, Distribution, Atlanta, People, XYZ, US

Example 3: Performing a One-Level Search

The following command performs a one-level search at the c=US level for all organizations whose organizationName begins with XY.

example% ldapsearch -s one -b "c=US" "o=XY*" o description

The organizationName and description attribute values are retrieved and printed to standard output, resulting in output similar to this:

dn: o=XYZ    c=US
     o: XYZ
     description: XYZ Corporation

     dn: o="XY Trading Company", c=US
     o: XY Trading Company
     description: Import and export specialists

     dn: o=XYInternational, c=US
     o: XYInternational
     o: XYI
     o: XY International

Example 4: Performing a Subtree Search on an IPv6 Server

The following command performs a subtree search using the default search base for entries with a user id of mcs on an IPv6 (that is, -h) server:

example% ldapsearch -u -h '['fec0::111:a00:20ff:fea3:edcf']' \
              -t "uid=mcs" jpegPhoto audio


The following exit values are returned:

0 Successful completion.

>0 An error occurred. A diagnostic message is written to standard error.



See attributes(5) for a description of the following attributes:

Stability LevelEvolving



ldapadd(1), ldapdelete(1), ldapmodify(1), ldapmodrdn(1), attributes(5)



Output Format

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Time: 02:39:23 GMT, October 02, 2010