A Bash Shell Dont Write History

Shell Programming

Have you ever found yourself working on the command line in a bash shell, but you don’t want your commands to be saved in the history file? I have encountered this scenario many times, and I’m here to share some insights on how to achieve this.

Understanding the Bash History

Before we dive into preventing commands from being saved in the history, let’s take a moment to understand how the bash history works. In a typical bash shell, commands entered by a user are saved in a history file, usually located at ~/.bash_history. This can be a convenient feature for recalling past commands, but there are times when you may need to keep certain commands off the record.

Using Spaces to Prevent History Entry

One simple and effective way to prevent a command from being saved in the history is by prefixing the command with a space. When you prepend a space before a command, it will not be saved in the history. This can be handy for running sensitive commands that you don’t want to be easily accessible through the history file.

Setting the HISTCONTROL Variable

Another approach involves using the HISTCONTROL variable. By setting HISTCONTROL=ignorespace, commands preceded by a space will not be saved in the history. Additionally, adding HISTCONTROL=ignoreboth will ensure that duplicates and commands with leading whitespace are not saved.

Temporarily Disabling History

Sometimes, you may want to temporarily disable history recording altogether. You can achieve this by using the command set +o history. This will prevent commands from being saved in the history for the duration of your session. When you’re ready to resume history recording, you can use set -o history to re-enable it.

Wrap Up

These techniques provide valuable options for working in a bash shell without having every command saved in the history. Whether you’re dealing with sensitive information or just want to keep your command history clean, understanding how to control history recording in bash can be incredibly useful.


As I’ve explored the ways to prevent commands from being saved in the bash history, I’ve come to appreciate the flexibility and control that the shell provides. By utilizing techniques such as leading spaces and adjusting the HISTCONTROL variable, I’ve been able to tailor my command history to suit my needs. I hope these insights will be as helpful to you as they have been to me in navigating the intricacies of command-line interactions.