How To Get Into A Running Docker Container

Getting into a running Docker container might sound like a daunting task at first, but with a few simple steps, you’ll be able to navigate and work within the container effortlessly. As someone who has dabbled in Docker containers for a while now, I can assure you that it’s a powerful tool that can greatly simplify the deployment and management of applications. So, let’s dive in and learn how to get into a running Docker container!

Step 1: List all the running containers

The first thing you’ll need to do is to list all the currently running Docker containers on your system. Open up your terminal and enter the following command:

docker ps

This will display a list of all the running containers, along with their container IDs, names, and other details. Make note of the container you want to get into, as you’ll need the container ID or name for the next step.

Step 2: Attach to the running container

Now that you have the container ID or name, you can attach to it and access its shell. Use the following command:

docker exec -it [CONTAINER_ID_OR_NAME] /bin/bash

Replace [CONTAINER_ID_OR_NAME] with the actual container ID or name you obtained from the previous step. This command will attach your terminal to the running container, allowing you to enter commands and interact with it as if you were inside the container itself.

It’s important to note that not all Docker containers have a shell available. Some containers might use a different command or shell, so make sure to check the container’s documentation if the above command doesn’t work.

Step 3: Explore and work within the container

Once you’re inside the running Docker container, you can explore and work within it just like you would on a regular system. You can run any desired command, install or update packages, modify configuration files, and more.

For example, if you want to install a package using the package manager available in the container, you can simply run:

apt-get install [PACKAGE_NAME]

Replace [PACKAGE_NAME] with the name of the package you want to install. The package manager will fetch and install the package within the container, just as if you were on a traditional system.

Step 4: Detach from the container

Once you’re done working within the container, you’ll need to detach from it and return to your host system. To detach from the container without stopping it, use the following key combination:

Ctrl + P + Q

This will detach your terminal from the container, allowing it to continue running. You’ll be back in your host system’s terminal, and the container will keep running in the background.


Getting into a running Docker container is not as complicated as it may seem. By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to access and work within a running container with ease. Docker containers offer a flexible and efficient way to deploy and manage applications, making them an essential tool for any developer or system administrator.

So, go ahead and give it a try! Start exploring the world of Docker containers and unlock the full potential of containerization.