Ana Sayfa / Linux / Bash Script / Bash history substitutions

Bash history substitutions

Quick Reference

Interaction with the history
# List all previous commands

# Clear the history, useful if you entered a password by accident
history -c
Event designators
# Expands to line n of bash history

# Expands to last command

# Expands to last command starting with "text"

# Expands to last command containing "text"

# Expands to command n lines ago

# Expands to last command with first occurrence of "foo" replaced by "bar"

# Expands to the current command
Word designators

These are separated by : from the event designator they refer to. The colon can be omitted if the word designator
doesn’t start with a number: !^ is the same as !:^.

# Expands to the first argument of the most recent command

# Expands to the last argument of the most recent command (short for !!:$)

# Expands to the third argument of the most recent command

# Expands to arguments x through y (inclusive) of the last command
# x and y can be numbers or the anchor characters ^ $

# Expands to all words of the last command except the 0th
# Equivalent to :^-$

These modify the preceding event or word designator.

# Replacement in the expansion using sed syntax
# Allows flags before the s and alternate separators
:s/foo/bar/ #substitutes bar for first occurrence of foo
:gs|foo|bar| #substitutes bar for all foo

# Remove leading path from last argument ("tail")

# Remove trailing path from last argument ("head")

# Remove file extension from last argument

If the Bash variable HISTCONTROL contains either ignorespace or ignoreboth (or, alternatively, HISTIGNORE contains
the pattern [ ]*), you can prevent your commands from being stored in Bash history by prepending them with a

# This command won't be saved in the history
# This command will be saved

Repeat previous command with sudo

$ apt-get install r-base
E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock - open (13: Permission denied)
E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?
$ sudo !!
sudo apt-get install r-base
[sudo] password for <user>:

Search in the command history by pattern

Press control r and type a pattern.

For example, if you recently executed man 5 crontab, you can find it quickly by starting to type “crontab”. The
prompt will change like this:

(reverse-i-search)`cr': man 5 crontab

The `cr’ there is the string I typed so far. This is an incremental search, so as you continue typing, the search result
gets updated to match the most recent command that contained the pattern.

Press the left or right arrow keys to edit the matched command before running it, or the enter key to run the

By default the search finds the most recently executed command matching the pattern. To go further back in the
history press control r again. You may press it repeatedly until you find the desired command.

Switch to newly created directory with !#:N

$ mkdir backup_download_directory && cd !#:1
mkdir backup_download_directory && cd backup_download_directory

This will substitute the Nth argument of the current command. In the example !#:1 is replaced with the first argument, i.e. backup_download_directory.

Using !$

You can use the !$ to reduce repetition when using the command line:

$ echo ping
$ echo !$

You can also build upon the repetition

$ echo !$ pong
ping pong
$ echo !$, a great game
pong, a great game

Notice that in the last example we did not get ping pong, a great game because the last argument passed to the
previous command was pong, we can avoid issue like this by adding quotes. Continuing with the example, our last
argument was game:

$ echo "it is !$ time"
it is game time
$ echo "hooray, !$!"
hooray, it is game time!

Repeat the previous command with a substitution

$ mplayer Lecture_video_part1.mkv
$ ^1^2^
mplayer Lecture_video_part2.mkv

This command will replace 1 with 2 in the previously executed command. It will only replace the first occurrence of
the string and is equivalent to !!:s/1/2/.

If you want to replace all occurrences, you have to use !!:gs/1/2/ or !!:as/1/2/.

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