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Handy Keyboard Shortcuts for the Linux Bash Terminal


Use these Linux Bash shortcuts for navigation, editing, command control, and easy access to history—all available in a free cheat sheet.

person pressing keys on keyboard

The Linux Bash (Bourne Again Shell) is a shell and command language that is known to most Linux users, since it’s the default shell in most Linux distributions.

A beginner Linux user may find the Linux terminal usage a bit hard to grasp, especially because it relies heavily on using your arrow keys to move around. Additionally, constantly re-typing the commands, each with a slight variation, can be annoying.

However, Bash comes with many easy-to-use keyboard shortcuts and history functions that ensure efficient use of the terminal. For making effective use of time, we have put together a list of the most commonly used Bash keyboard shortcuts.

FREE DOWNLOAD: This cheat sheet is available as a downloadable PDF from our distribution partner, TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access it for the first time only. Download the Linux Bash Terminal Cheat Sheet.

Linux Bash Terminal Keyboard Shortcuts

Shortcut Action
Bash Navigation
Ctrl + A Move to the start of the command line
Ctrl + E Move to the end of the command line
Ctrl + F Move one character forward
Ctrl + B Move one character backward
Ctrl + XX Switch cursor position between start of the command line and the current position
Ctrl + ] + x Moves the cursor forward to next occurrence of x
Alt + F / Esc + F Moves the cursor one word forward
Alt + B / Esc + B Moves the cursor one word backward
Alt + Ctrl + ] + x Moves cursor to the previous occurrence of x
Bash Control/Process
Ctrl + L Similar to clear command, clears the terminal screen
Ctrl + S Stops command output to the screen
Ctrl + Z Suspends current command execution and moves it to the background
Ctrl + Q Resumes suspended command
Ctrl + C Sends SIGI signal and kills currently executing command
Ctrl + D Closes the current terminal
Bash History
Ctrl + R Incremental reverse search of bash history
Alt + P Non-incremental reverse search of bash history
Ctrl + J Ends history search at current command
Ctrl + _ Undo previous command
Ctrl + P / Up arrow Moves to previous command
Ctrl + N / Down arrow Moves to next command
Ctrl + S Gets the next most recent command
Ctrl + O Runs and re-enters the command found via Ctrl + S and Ctrl + R
Ctrl + G Exits history search mode
!! Runs last command
!* Runs previous command except its first word
!*:p Displays what !* substitutes
!x Runs recent command in the bash history that begins with x
!x:p Displays the x command and adds it as the recent command in history
!$ Same as OPTION+., brings forth last argument of the previous command
!^ Substitutes first argument of last command in the current command
!$:p Displays the word that !$ substitutes
^123^abc Replaces 123 with abc
!n:m Repeats argument within a range (i.e, m 2-3)
!fi Repeats latest command in history that begins with fi
!n Run nth command from the bash history
!n:p Prints the command !n executes
!n:$ Repeat arguments from the last command (i.e, from argument n to $)
Bash Editing
Ctrl + U Deletes before the cursor until the start of the command
Ctrl + K Deletes after the cursor until the end of the command
Ctrl + W Removes the command/argument before the cursor
Ctrl + D Removes the character under the cursor
Ctrl + H Removes character before the cursor
Alt + D Removes from the character until the end of the word
Alt + Backspace Removes from the character until the start of the word
Alt + . / Esc+. Uses last argument of previous command
Alt + < Moves to the first line of the bash history
Alt + > Moves to the last line of the bash history
Esc + T Switch between last two words before cursor
Alt + T Switches current word with the previous
Bash Information
TAB Autocompletes the command or file/directory name
~TAB TAB List all Linux users
Ctrl + I Completes the command like TAB
Alt + ? Display files/folders in the current path for help
Alt + * Display files/folders in the current path as parameter


Plenty More to Learn About Linux

The Bash shell keyboard shortcuts work around the developer’s DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) philosophy. They help make effective use of your time by improving productivity in a fast-paced work environment.

The above cheat sheet is just the tip of an iceberg. The more you begin to explore Linux terminal commands and Bash shortcuts, the easier and more interesting Linux becomes.

The Linux Commands Reference Cheat Sheet

This simple cheat sheet will help you get comfortable with the Linux command line terminal in no time.

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