DevOps Blog

Docker Commands: A Cheat Sheet

Maintanence worker working with cargo containers
3 minute read
Jonathan Johnson

Docker’s purpose is to build and manage compute images and to launch them in a container. So, the most useful commands do and expose this information.

Here’s a cheat sheet on the top Docker commands to know and use.

(This is part of our Docker Guide. Use the right-hand menu to navigate.)

Images and containers

The docker command line interface follows this pattern:
docker <COMMAND>

docker images
docker container

The docker images and container commands grant access to the images and containers. From here, you are permitted to do something with them, hence:

docker images <COMMAND>
Docker container <COMMAND>

There are:

  • is lists the resources.
  • cp copies files/folders between the container and the local file system.
  • create creates new container.
  • diff inspects changes to files or directories in a running container.
  • logs fetches the logs of a container.
  • pause pauses all processes within one or more containers.
  • rename renames a container.
  • run runs a new command in a container.
  • start starts one or more stopped containers.
  • stop stops one or more running containers.
  • stats displays a livestream of containers resource usage statistics.
  • top displays the running processes of a container.

View resources with ls

docker images ls
docker container ls

From the container ls command, the container id can be accessed (first column).


Control timing with start, stop, restart, prune

  • start starts one or more stopped containers.
  • stop stops one or more running containers.
  • restart restarts one or more containers.
  • prune (the best one!) removes all stopped containers.
docker container stop <container id>
docker container start <container id>
docker container restart <container id>
docker container prune <container id>

Name a container

docker run -d -name myfirstcontainer

View vital information: Inspect, stats, top

docker container inspect <container id>
docker container top <container id>
docker container stats <container id>
  • stats displays a live stream of container(s) resource usage statistics

stats docker

  • top displays the running processes of a container:


  • inspect displays detailed information on one or more containers. With inspect, a JSON is returned detailing the name and states and more of a container.


Additional resources

For more on this topic, there’s always the Docker documentation, the BMC DevOps Blog, and these articles:

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Jonathan Johnson

Jonathan Johnson is a tech writer who integrates life and technology. Supports increasing people's degrees of freedom.