How To Abbreviate Command In Bash

Shell Programming

Abbreviating commands in Bash can be a time-saving and convenient way to navigate through the command line. As a software developer, I have found that mastering the art of command abbreviation has significantly improved my productivity. In this article, I will share my insights on how to effectively abbreviate commands in Bash while adding personal touches and commentary along the way.

Understanding Command Abbreviation in Bash

In Bash, command abbreviation is achieved using the Tab key. When typing a command, I often find myself only typing the first few letters and then pressing Tab to let Bash autocomplete the command. This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of typos. For example, if I want to run the “ls” command, I can simply type “l” and then press Tab to autocomplete the command.

Customizing Abbreviations with Alias

While Bash provides convenient tab completion for many commands, I’ve found that creating aliases for frequently used commands can further streamline my workflow. By adding aliases to my Bash configuration file (usually .bashrc or .bash_profile), I can define custom abbreviations for commands. For instance, I often use alias gs='git status' to abbreviate the “git status” command to simply “gs”. This allows me to type fewer characters while retaining clarity.

Expanding Abbreviations with Wildcards

Another useful technique for command abbreviation is leveraging wildcard characters. For instance, instead of typing the full file or directory name, I can use ‘*’ as a wildcard to represent multiple characters. This comes in handy when working with files or directories with long or complex names. For example, rm file_* can be used to delete multiple files that have names starting with “file_”.

Utilizing Command History

Bash maintains a history of commands that have been executed. I often find myself revisiting previous commands, and instead of retyping the entire command, I can use the command history in combination with abbreviated commands. By typing the first few letters of a command and pressing the Up arrow key, I can quickly cycle through previously executed commands that match the abbreviation.


Mastering the art of abbreviating commands in Bash has undoubtedly enhanced my command-line experience. Through tab completion, custom aliases, wildcard expansion, and command history, I have found efficient ways to navigate and execute commands. I encourage fellow developers to embrace these techniques and personalize them to suit their workflow, thereby maximizing productivity in the command line environment.