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Shortcuts to Move Faster in Bash Command Line

Nowadays, I spend more time in Bash shell, typing longer commands. One of my new year resolutions for this year is to stop using left/right arrow keys to move around in the command line. I learned a few shortcuts a while ago.

Last night, I spent some time to read about “Command Line Editing” in the bash manual. The bash manual is a well-written piece of documentation. I think I should read it more often.

Well, here’s the new shortcuts I learned:

Basic moves

  • Move back one character. Ctrl + b
  • Move forward one character. Ctrl + f
  • Delete current character. Ctrl + d
  • Delete previous character. Backspace
  • Undo. Ctrl + -

Moving faster

  • Move to the start of line. Ctrl + a
  • Move to the end of line. Ctrl + e
  • Move forward a word. Meta + f (a word contains alphabets and digits, no symbols)
  • Move backward a word. Meta + b
  • Clear the screen. Ctrl + l

What is Meta? Meta is your Alt key, normally. For Mac OSX user, you need to enable it yourself. Open Terminal > Preferences > Settings > Keyboard, and enable Use option as meta key. Meta key, by convention, is used for operations on word.

Cut and paste (‘Kill and yank’ for old schoolers)

  • Cut from cursor to the end of line. Ctrl + k
  • Cut from cursor to the end of word. Meta + d
  • Cut from cursor to the start of word. Meta + Backspace
  • Cut from cursor to previous whitespace. Ctrl + w
  • Paste the last cut text. Ctrl + y
  • Loop through and paste previously cut text. Meta + y (use it after Ctrl + y)
  • Loop through and paste the last argument of previous commands. Meta + .

Search the command history

  • Search as you type. Ctrl + r and type the search term; Repeat Ctrl + r to loop through results.
  • Search the last remembered search term. Ctrl + r twice.
  • End the search at current history entry. Ctrl + j
  • Cancel the search and restore original line. Ctrl + g

Need more?

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