Have you ever stumbled upon a tool that made you wonder how you managed without it? For me, that tool is jq - a simple but powerful command-line tool for working with JSON data.

Not long ago, handling JSON data felt like a puzzle. It was messy, and I often struggled to find what I needed. Then, I discovered jq.

What is jq?

jq is a lightweight and flexible command-line JSON processor. It serves as a Swiss Army knife for parsing, filtering, transforming, and manipulating JSON data directly from the command line. It’s like having a dedicated toolkit for all your JSON-related tasks without the need for complex scripts or programming languages.

Basic Usage

  1. Parsing JSON Data:
cat data.json | jq

This command takes the contents of data.json, processes it using jq, and outputs the formatted JSON to the terminal. It’s a quick way to pretty-print JSON data for better readability.

  1. Selecting Specific Fields:
cat data.json | jq '.name'

Here, jq selects only the “name” field from the JSON data, providing a focused view of the information you’re interested in.

  1. Filtering Data:
cat data.json | jq '.[] | select(.age > 30)'

This command filters the JSON data to include only objects where the “age” field is greater than 30. It showcases jq’s powerful filtering capabilities.

  1. Combining Tools:
curl -s https://microsoftedge.github.io/Demos/json-dummy-data/128KB.json | jq '.[] | .name'

Combine curl with jq to fetch and process JSON data from APIs directly.

curl -s https://microsoftedge.github.io/Demos/json-dummy-data/128KB.json | jq '.[] | select(.version == 1.79)'

Filter all data where the “version” field is equal to 1.79.

Advanced Features

Beyond the basics, jq offers advanced features, including the ability to combine filters, apply transformations, and execute calculations on JSON data effortlessly. With robust support for iterating over arrays and nested data structures, jq enables complex data manipulation tasks with ease. Moreover, users can define custom functions and filters using jq’s programming language, extending its capabilities to meet specific needs and enhancing its versatility in handling JSON data.


Manipulating JSON data through the command line offers a fast and efficient way to work with structured data. jq CLI is a powerful tool for working with JSON data from the command line. Its intuitive syntax, rich feature set, and extensibility make it a valuable asset for developers, sysadmins, and data engineers alike. By mastering jq, you can streamline your JSON data manipulation tasks and unlock new possibilities for data-driven workflows.