Is there any switch to tell top command in order to one time scan the system and do not monitor it all time?

  • 8
    if you want to know something about a command, first read the man page of corresponding command (man command). Jun 17, 2014 at 11:39

2 Answers 2


The -n switch is what you search:

user@host:~$ top -n 1

See the manpage

   -n : Number of iterations limit as:  -n number
        Specifies the maximum number of iterations, or frames, top should produce before ending.

If you want to stop top command just press q.

Notice: If you tend to use top in a script, I need to say top is not meant for scripts, use ps instead.

  • 2
    I am using top in a script because I think ps is not capable to read CPU load average. Am I wrong? Dec 12, 2015 at 23:44

notice that if you would like to keep "top" command for a script, you could use -b option ("-b" option means "batch mode operation"), this option allows you to redirect the output into a file.


  • top one shoot batch mode : top -bn 1 2>&1 1> /tmp/topN
  • top sorted by memory usage one shoot batch mode : top -ban 1 2>&1 1> /tmp/topAN

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