Docker List Containers

In this quick guide, we will walk through the different ways to list containers in Docker, we will also see the options and filters that can help refine your search.

In order to list the Docker containers, we can use the “docker ps” or “docker container ls” command. This command provides a variety of ways to list and filter all containers on a particular Docker engine. Let's start by listing all the running containers.

Docker List Containers

Listing Running Containers 

The primary command to list containers is:

docker ps
docker container ls
The docker container ls command by default showcases only the containers that are running. This command provides a snapshot of details like the container ID, image name, creation time, status, ports, and the container's assigned name.

For example: If we use the “docker container ls” command with no options, it'll list all the running containers:
$ docker container ls
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                COMMAND                  CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                                NAMES
1addfea727b3        mysql:5.6            "docker-en.."   2 seconds ago       Up 1 second>3306/tcp              dazzling_hellman
09c4105cb356        nats:2.1.0-scratch   "/nats-…"       17 minutes ago      Up 17 minutes       4222/tcp, 6222/tcp, 8222/tcp         nats-1
443fc0c41710        rabbitmq:3.7         "docker-…"      17 minutes ago      Up 17 minutes       4369/tcp, 5671-5672/tcp, 25672/tcp   rabbit-1
b06cfe3053e5        postgres:11          "docker-…"      29 minutes ago      Up 29 minutes>5432/tcp              pg-2
4cf774b9e4a4        redis:5              "docker-…"      30 minutes ago      Up 30 minutes>6379/tcp              redis-2
We have five running containers so far — Nats, RabbitMQ, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Redis.

List All Containers 

By default, the “docker container ls” command only shows the running containers. However, if we pass the -a or –all option, it'll list all (stopped and running) containers:
docker container ls -a
For example with output:
$ docker container ls -a
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE                STATUS
1addfea727b3        mysql:5.6            Up 4 hours
32928d81a65f        mysql:5.6            Exited (1) 4 hours ago
09c4105cb356        nats:2.1.0-scratch   Up 4 hours
443fc0c41710        rabbitmq:3.7         Up 4 hours
b06cfe3053e5        postgres:11          Up 4 hours
16d3c67ebd40        postgres:11          Exited (0) 4 hours ago
4cf774b9e4a4        redis:5              Up 4 hours
99c537a3dd86        redis:5              Exited (0) 4 hours ago

Latest Containers 

To see the last n Docker containers (both running and stopped), we can use the -n <number> or –last <number> option:
$ docker container ls -n 2
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               STATUS
1addfea727b3        mysql:5.6           Up 4 hours
32928d81a65f        mysql:5.6           Exited (1) 4 hours ago

Filters for a Tailored View 

Docker offers the feature of filtering the list of containers based on specific criteria. For instance, if you're only interested in containers spun from the 'nginx' image:

docker container ls -a --filter "ancestor=nginx"

Custom Output Formats 

If the standard table format doesn't resonate with your needs, Docker lets you format the command's output. For example, if you're only after the container IDs:
docker container ls -aq
Or, if your focus is just on the names and IDs of the containers:

docker container ls --format "{{.ID}}: {{.Names}}"

Listing Containers by Their Status 

You might find the need to view containers based on their statuses, like those that have exited or are currently paused: To see the containers that have exited:
$ docker container ls --filter "status=exited"
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               STATUS
32928d81a65f        mysql:5.6           Exited (1) 8 hours ago
16d3c67ebd40        postgres:11         Exited (0) 9 hours ago
99c537a3dd86        redis:5             Exited (0) 9 hours ago
For containers in a paused state:
$ docker container ls --filter "status=paused"
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               STATUS
4cf774b9e4a4        redis:5             Up 45 minutes (Paused)


In this guide, we saw how to list and filter Docker containers using the “docker container ls” command and its useful options.