Sameeksha Medewar | 04 Jan, 2023

Docker Cheat Sheet (Docker Commands + Free PDF)

Docker is an open-source containerization platform for building, running, and managing containers on the server and cloud. It is a de facto standard for creating and managing containerized applications. Docker was introduced in 2013 as an industry standard for orchestrating containers.

A container is a software unit that combines an application’s source code and operating system libraries and dependencies so that the application can work in any environment. 

Today, most companies use Docker to manage and deliver distributed applications having complex requirements. So, the demand for Docker experts is also increasing at an alarming rate. 

So, if you want to set your foot in this field, you must prepare with all the technical stuff for cracking your interview. We have created this Docker commands cheat sheet to make your life easier. You can refer to this Docker cheat sheet to brush up on your knowledge. 

Why Docker?

Earlier, it was pretty challenging for developers to create complex applications with several dependencies and manage their runtime as per the underlying infrastructure. But with Docker, developers can simply break down the complex applications into smaller parts and put them into the container along with all the dependency files required to run that container, independent of the underlying infrastructure. 

Developers can quickly run the Docker container on any OS-compatible host (Linux or Windows) with the Docker runtime installed.

Here are some remarkable features of Docker:

  • Docker supports the microservices architecture. 
  • Handy encapsulation, isolation, portability, and control. 
  • Docker containers are small (megabytes). They come with built-in mechanisms for versioning and component reuse. 
  • Docker allows you to make efficient use of the resources across all containers. 
  • It allows the developers to act quickly and improves the development and deployment speed to deliver the high-end software. 
  • With Docker, you can easily make your application portable and can share it over different infrastructures to run the container. 

Believe it or not, it has benefitted several companies to speed up their SDLC process and improve performance by removing the dependency on the underlying infrastructure.

Prerequisites for Docker

The following are some major prerequisites of different operating systems to install docker:

  • Linux

The 3.10.x kernel is the minimum requirement for Docker.

  • macOS

10.8 “Mountain Lion” or newer is required.

  • Windows 10

Hyper-V must be enabled in BIOS.

VT-D must also be enabled if available (Intel Processors).

  • Windows Server

You should have Windows Server 2016 as the minimum version for installing docker and docker-compose. Some limitations come with this version, such as multiple virtual networks and Linux containers. It is recommended to have Windows Server 2019 and later versions for better compatibility.

Installing Docker

To install docker on your system, you can execute simple commands from your system’s command-line terminal, as shown below. If your specific OS steps are not mentioned below, you can explore them online.

  • Linux

Running the following command is the easiest way to install Docker on Linux OS quickly. 

curl -sSL | sh
  • macOS

Download and install Docker Community Edition. For Homebrew-Cask, just type brew cask install docker. Or you can download and install Docker Toolbox. macOS

After installing the Docker Community Edition, click the docker icon in Launchpad to start up a container.

docker run hello-world
  • Windows10

You can install Docker for Windows 10. After installing, run the Docker installer by double-clicking it. After completing the installation process, go to the whale icon in the notification indicating Docker is running, and you can access it via terminal.Windows 10

You can run the following command from the terminal line to check the installed Docker version.

docker version
  • Windows Server 2016/2019

With the help of the OneGet provider PowerShell module, you can easily install the Docker EE on Windows Server. First, you need to install the Docker-Microsoft PackageManagement Provider module from the PowerShell Gallery.

Install-Module -Name DockerMsftProvider -Repository PSGallery -Force

To view the installed package provider and the Docker package, type the below command:

Get-PackageProvider -ListAvailableget-packagesource -ProviderName DockerMsftProvider

To install the latest version of Docker, use the following command

Install-Package -Name docker -ProviderName DockerMsftProvider

To check the installed Docker version, run the following command:


docker version

Architecture of Docker

DevOps architecture has five major working entities, namely registry, image, container, daemon, and client.

  • Registry: It hosts Docker images, both public and official images. Docker Hub is the default Docker registry that everyone uses.
  • Image: You can download the Docker image from the registry directly or implicitly while starting a container.
  • Container: It is the instance of an image. There are several containers available for a single image.
  • Docker daemon: A daemon performs the main tasks, such as creating, running, and monitoring containers, along with building and storing images.
  • Client: A client communicates to Docker daemon with the help of HTTP.

Now, let us get started with the Docker commands list. We will first cover the Docker commands for its architecture's five entities mentioned above.

Docker Commands Cheat Sheet

Download Cheat Sheet

Registry & Repository

Repository refers to the hosted collection of the images creating the file system for containers. Registry refers to the host containing the repositories and providing an HTTP API that helps manage the repositories.

Docker has its central registry with thousands of repositories. But before you use the images from this registry, make sure you verify them to avoid security issues.

  • docker login: To log in to a registry.
  • docker logout: To log out from a registry.
  • docker search: It will search the registry for the image.
  • docker pull: It will pull an image from the registry to the local machine.
  • docker push: It will push an image to the registry from the local machine.



You can refer to images as the templates for the Docker containers. You can run the following commands to work with the images:

  • docker images: It will display all images.
  • docker import: You can create an image from a tarball.
  • docker build: You can create an image from Dockerfile.
  • docker commit: You can create an image from a container and temporarily pause it if it is running.
  • docker rmi: It will remove an image.
  • docker load: It will load an image from a tar archive as STDIN, including images and tags.
  • docker: It will save an image to a tar archive stream to STDOUT with all parent layers, tags, & versions.
  • docker history: To display the history of an image
  • docker tag: It will tag the image to a name.
  • docker load < my_image.tar.gz: It will load an image from the mentioned file along with its history.
  • docker save my_image:my_tag | gzip > my_image.tar.gz: It will save an existing file.
  • cat my_container.tar.gz | docker import - my_image:my_tag: It will import the container as an image from the mentioned file without its history; thus, the file size is small. 
  • docker export my_container | gzip > my_container.tar.gz: It will export the container. 
  • docker push repo[:tag]: It will push an image or repo from the registry.
  • docker pull repo[:tag]: It will pull an image or repo from the registry.
  • docker search text: It will allow you to search for an image in the official registry.



Containers are the isolated Docker process that contains the code to be executed.

  • docker create: It will create a container without starting it.
  • docker rename: To remane the container.
  • docker run: It will create and start the container in one task.
  • docker rm: It will delete a container.
  • docker update: It will update a container's resource limits.

Usually, a container will start and stop immediately if you run it without any option. 

  • docker run -td container_id: It will keep the container running, -t will allocate a pseudo-TTY session, and -d will detach the container automatically.
  • docker run --rm: It will remove the container once it stops.
  • docker run -v $HOSTDIR:$DOCKERDIR: It will map a directory on the host to a docker container.
  • docker rm -v: It will remove the volumes associated with the container.
  • docker run --log-driver=syslog: Docker 1.10 comes with the logging driver for each container, and it will run docker with a custom log driver.
  • docker start: It will start a container, so it is running.
  • docker stop: It will stop a running container.
  • docker restart: It stops and starts a container.
  • docker pause: It will pause a running container, "freezing" it in place.
  • docker unpause: It will unpause a running container.
  • docker wait: It will block until the running container stops.
  • docker kill: It sends a SIGKILL to a running container.
  • docker attach: It will connect to a running container.
  • docker run- it -c 512 agileek/cpuset-test: It lets you limit the CPU, either using a percentage of all CPUs or by using specific cores. 1024 means 100% of the CPU, so if you want the container to take 50% of all CPU cores, you should specify 512.
  • docker run -it --cpuset-cpus=0,4,6 agileek/cpuset-test: CPU cores using cpuset-cpus.
  • docker run -it -m 300M ubuntu:14.04 /bin/bash: Setting memory constraints on Docker.
  • docker run --rm -it --cap-add SYS_ADMIN --device /dev/fuse sshfs: Setting Linux capabilities using cap-add. It lets you mount a FUSE-based filesystem, and you need to combine both --cap-add and --device
  • docker run -it --device=/dev/ttyUSB0 debian bash: Providing access to single device.
  • docker run -it --privileged -v /dev/bus/usb:/dev/bus/usb debian bash: Providing access to all devices. 
  • docker ps: It will display the running containers.
  • docker logs: Provide the logs from the container. (You can use a custom log driver, but logs are only available for json-file and journald in 1.10).
  • docker inspect: It checks all the information on a container (including IP address).
  • docker events: It will get the events from the container.
  • docker port: It will display the public-facing port of the container.
  • docker top: It will display the running processes in the container.
  • docker stats: It will display the containers' resource usage statistics.
  • docker diff: It will display the changed files in the container's FS.
  • docker ps -a: It will display the running and stopped containers.
  • docker stats --all: It will display a list of all containers, default shows just running.
  • docker cp: It will copy the files or folders between a container and the local filesystem.
  • docker export: It will turn the container filesystem into a tarball archive stream to STDOUT.
  • docker exec: To execute a command in a container.
  • docker exec -it foo /bin/bash: To enter a running container, attach a new shell process to a running container called foo.
  • docker commit container image: It will commit a new docker image.


Dockerfile Cheat Sheet

It is a config file that will set up a Docker container whenever you run a docker build on it. To create docker files, you can use any of the following text editors and their syntax highlighting modules. 

  • Sublime Text 2
  • Atom
  • Vim
  • Emacs
  • TextMate
  • VS Code

The following are some instructions that you can use while working with Dockerfile:

  • FROM: It will set the Base Image for subsequent instructions.
  • MAINTAINER (deprecated - use LABEL instead): It will set the Author field of the generated images.
  • RUN: It will execute any commands in a new layer on top of the current image and then commit the results.
  • CMD: It will offer the defaults for an executing container.
  • EXPOSE: It will tell the Docker that the container listens on the specified network ports at runtime. 
  • ADD: It will copy the new files, directories, or remote files to the container. 
  • COPY: It will copy the new files or directories to a container. It copies as root regardless of the USER/WORKDIR settings by default. Use --chown=<user>:<group> to provide the ownership to another user/group. 
  • ENTRYPOINT: It will configure a container that will run as an executable.
  • VOLUME: It will create a mount point for externally mounted volumes or other containers.
  • USER: It will set the user name for the following RUN / CMD / ENTRYPOINT commands.
  • WORKDIR: It will set the working directory.
  • ARG: It lets you define a build-time variable.
  • ONBUILD: It will add a trigger instruction when the image is used as the base for another build.



Docker has a featured network, allowing the containers to connect. You can create three network interfaces with Docker, namely bridge, host, and none. 

By default, the new container is launched into the bridge network. To establish communication among several containers, you need a new network for launching containers in it. It lets the containers communicate while being isolated from other containers not connected to the network. 

  • docker network create NAME: It will create a new network of bridge type by default.
  • docker network rm NAME: It will remove one or more networks specified by name and make sure that no containers are connected to the deleted network.
  • docker network ls: It will list all the networks.
  • docker network inspect NAME: It will show the detailed information on one or more networks.
  • docker network connect NETWORK CONTAINER: It will connect a container to a network
  • docker network disconnect NETWORK CONTAINER: It will disconnect a container from a network.



Docker has volumes that are free-floating filesystems. So there is no need to be connected to a particular container. You can use volumes mounted from data-only containers for portability. As per Docker 1.9.0, it comes with the named volumes that replace data-only containers. 

  • docker volume create: to create volumes.
  • docker volume rm: To remove volumes.
  • docker volume ls: To list the volumes.
  • docker volume inspect: To inspect the volumes.



Orchestration manages the container’s life cycle, especially in dynamic environments. You can use it for controlling and automating several tasks for containers.

Among a long list of Docker orchestration tools, the most commonly used orchestration tools are Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and Mesos. In this Docker cheat sheet, we are using Docker Swarm commands.

  • Docker swarm init --advertise-addr Initialize the swarm mode and listen to a specific interface.
  • Docker swarm join --token<manager-token> It will join an existing swarm as a manager node.
  • Docker swarm join --token<worker-token> It will join a swarm as a worker node.
  • Docker node ls: It will list all nodes in the swarm.
  • Docker service create --replicas 3 -p 80:80 name -webngix: It will create a service from an image on the existing port and deploy three instances.
  • Docker service ls: It will list services running in a swarm.
  • Docker service scale web=5: It will scale the service.
  • docker service ps web: It will list the tasks of service.


Interaction with container

You can use the following commands to interact with the container.

  • Docker exe -ti container_name It will run a command in the container.
  • Docker logs -ft container name: It will follow the container log.
  • Docker commit -m “commit message” -a “author” container_name username/image_name: tag: It will save the running container as an image.



You can use the following commands to build the images from a Docker file. 

  • Docker build -t myapp :1.0- will build an image from the Docker file and tag it.
  • Docker images- it will list all the images that are locally stored
  • Docker rmi alpine: 3.4 will delete an image from the Docker Store.

Docker & Kubernetes: The Practical Guide [2024 Edition]


To optimize the usage of the resources, you need to clean up the resources frequently to maintain the performance. You can run the following commands to clean up resources. 

  • Docker image prune: It will clean an unused/dangling image
  • Docker image prune -a: It will remove an image not used in a container.
  • Docker system prune: It will prune the entire system.
  • Docker swarm leave: It will leave a swarm.
  • docker stack rm stack_name: It will remove a swarm.
  • Docker kills $ (docker ps -q): It will v.
  • docker rm $(docker ps -a -q): It will delete all stopped containers
  • docker rmi $(docker images -q): It will delete all images.



Let’s now take a sneak peek at the commands used to view the running services, run the services, view all service logs, and scale the services.

  • Docker service ls: It will list all services running in a swarm.
  • Docker stack services stack_name: It will display all running services.
  • Docker service logs stack_name service_names: It will display all service logs.
  • Docker service scale stack_name_service_name= replicas: It will scale a service across qualified nodes.


Docker-compose Cheat Sheet

Compose is a tool that helps you to define and run multi-container Docker applications. With Compose, you get to work with a YAML file to configure your application services. With the help of the following commands, you can simply create and start all the services from your configuration.

  • docker-compose start: It will start the container.
  • docker-compose stop: It will stop the container.
  • docker-compose pause: It will pause the container.
  • docker-compose unpause: It will unpause the container.
  • docker-compose ps: It will list all the containers.
  • docker-compose up: It aggregates the output of each container (essentially running docker-compose logs --follow ).
  • Docker-compose down: It stops containers and removes containers, networks, volumes, and images created by up.
  • Docker-compose -f <docker-compose-file> up: It will start up your application
  • docker-compose stop-run docker-compose in detached mode using -d flag, and then you can stop it whenever needed.

Basic example

# docker-compose.yml

version: '2'



    build: .

    # build from Dockerfile

    context: ./Path

    dockerfile: Dockerfile


     - "5000:5000"


     - .:/code


    image: redis
  • Reference


  # build using the Dockerfile

  build: .

 # build using the custom Dockerfile


    context: ./dir


 # build from image

  image: ubuntu

  image: ubuntu:14.04

  image: tutum/influxdb

  image: example-registry:4000/postgresql

  image: a4bc65fd
  • Ports

    - "3000"

    - "8000:80"  # guest:host

 # expose ports to linked services (not to host)

  expose: ["3000"]


 # commands to execute

  command: bundle exec thin -p 3000

  command: [bundle, exec, thin, -p, 3000]

 # overriding the entrypoint

  entrypoint: /app/

  entrypoint: [php, -d, vendor/bin/phpunit]
  • Environment variables
# environment variables


    RACK_ENV: development


    - RACK_ENV=development

 # environment vars from the specified file

  env_file: .env

  env_file: [.env, .development.env]
  • Dependencies
 # makes the `db` service available as the hostname `database`

  # (implies depends_on)


    - db:database

    - redis

 # make sure `db` is alive before starting


    - db
  • Other options
# make this service extend another


    file: common.yml  # optional

    service: web app


    - /var/lib/mysql

    - ./_data:/var/lib/mysql

Docker Certified Associate: 2024 Master Course


Docker is a software offering platform-as-a-service services for creating and deploying applications by encapsulating the software within containers.

Containers are lightweight, portable entities that can be easily shared without depending on the underlying infrastructure or worrying about their compatibility with several systems. Due to its features, many companies are now adopting docker containers for creating complex applications.

Docker comes with a wide range of terminology related to its services, such as Dockerfiles, images, containers, and other Docker-specific words. Everything can be handled using Docker commands. In this Docker Cheat Sheet PDF, you will get a list of all the Docker commands you can refer to anytime.

Docker FAQs

  • What are all the Docker commands?

You can click here to download our Docker commands cheat sheet PDF.

  • What is the ENV command in docker?

You can use ENV for providing the default values for your future environment variables within the container. You cannot change the ENV variables via the command line, but you can use the ARG variables if you want. 

In the following example of the Dockerfile, we have created two variables, one as ARG and one as ENV.

Using ARG Value in ENV Variable

FROM alpine:3.7
RUN echo "print variable value:" $VARIABLE_1
RUN echo " print ENV variable : " $VARIABLE_2
  • Does Dockerfile need CMD?

CMD instruction allows the developers to set a default command, which will be executed only when running a container without specifying a command. If you run a Docker container with a command, it will ignore the default command. If Dockerfile has more than one CMD instruction, all the last CMD instructions are ignored.

CMD has three forms:

  • CMD ["executable","param1","param2"] (exec form, preferred)
  • CMD ["param1","param2"] (sets additional default parameters for ENTRYPOINT in exec form)
  • CMD command param1 param2 (shell form)
  • How do I learn Docker commands?

There are several online and offline resources that you can consider for learning Docker commands. For that, you need to have strong knowledge of the command line. Also, you can go through this Docker commands cheat sheet and brush up on your skills for a quick reference.

  • Is Docker CLI still free?

You can still enjoy Docker freely for personal/student/small businesses. Small businesses have less than 250 employees and an annual turnover of less than $10m.

Click here to view full pricing details.

  • How do I execute a docker container?

  • To execute the docker exec command, you must have a running Docker container. If you do not have any, start a test container using the following docker run command:
docker run -d --name container-name alpine watch "date >> /var/log/date.log"

This command creates a new Docker container from the official alpine image.

  • We need to pass the container name to the “docker exec”. To find the information, you can run the following command.
docker ps
  • You can rename your container name using the following command if you want.
docker rename container-name new-name
  • If you want to run an interactive shell within a Docker container, you need to run “docker exec” with “-i” (keeps input open to the container) and “-t” (creates a pseudo-terminal that the shell can attach to) flags. 
docker exec -it container-name sh

It will run the sh shell in the specified container, giving you a basic shell prompt. To exit the container, run the following command.

  • If you want to run a command in a particular directory of your container, execute the following command to specify the directory explicitly.
docker exec --workdir /tmp container-name pwd
  • If you want to run a command as a different user inside your container, run the following command.
docker exec --user guest container-name whoami
  • For passing environment variables into a container along with the command to run, you can use the -e flag, as shown below.
  • docker exec -e TEST=sammy container-name env

    For setting multiple variables, repeat the -e flag for each one.

  • First, make the file with a text editor. We’ll open a new file with nano here.
nano .env

We have used the .env as the filename to manage information outside of version control.

  • Write your KEY=value variables into the file, one per line, like the following.
  • Save and close the file. To save the file and exit nano, press CTRL+O, then ENTER to save, then CTRL+X to exit.
  • Now run the docker exec command, specifying the correct filename after --env-file


docker exec --env-file .env container-name env


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By Sameeksha Medewar

Sameeksha is a freelance content writer for more than half and a year. She has a hunger to explore and learn new things. She possesses a bachelor's degree in Computer Science.

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