Getting www.commandlinefu.com off the ground has renewed my interest in Bash, UNIX and all things command-line. Powerful one-liners are things of beauty and are worth collecting; however what I consider to be the most influential command-line tip I know covers four:
"\e[A": history-search-backward "\e[B": history-search-forward "\e[C": forward-char "\e[D": backward-char
These lines need to be placed in your
~/.inputrc file, the start-up
script for the Readline utility used by Bash (as well as several other
applications) and others). The important commands here are the first
two, which bind your up and down cursor keys to incrementally search
your history. (The second two ensure that left and right continue to
This is incredibly useful for retrieving commands you’ve used previously and makes a huge difference to your productivity. For instance, to find a previous SSH command from a few days ago, simply type “ss” and press up a few times. This will allow you to browse through all your previous ssh… commands until you find the right one - you never need to use more than 4 or 5 keystrokes to retrieve any previous command. If your cycling through too many commands to find the right one, type in a few more characters to refine the search.
Another way of searching your history is to use CTRL+R, which essentially performs a full-text search on your history (keep pressing CTRL+R to cycle through results). In this case, searching for “ssh” will locate all commands that feature this string anywhere in the command. Although this is actually a more powerful feature than the incremental history search described above, I don’t often use it as: (a) the incremental search generally lets me jump to the desired command in fewer key-presses and (b) I find “ssh”, CTRL+R, CTRL+R slightly awkward to type and less intuitive than “ssh”, UP, UP. Horses for courses really - you could probably be just as efficient with either one.
» Hat-tip to the place where I first learnt this: Power Shell Usage by Simon Myers
One extra thing: this functionality can be neatly complimented by some
choice history settings in your
export HISTSIZE=1000000 export HISTFILESIZE=1000000000
These simply set your history to be very large so that you have a huge bank of commands to search.