Speeding myself up on the commandline

I tend to find myself in the terminal.app on my Mac more often than not, SSHing into servers, checking whois, host, and any number of other things. My most frequent incantation is searching the command history so I don’t have to re-type a previous command, something like this:

grep curl ~/.bash_history

I’ll then copy and paste the command and hit return. It’s pretty quick, and I’ve got the muscle memory right down now… but there’s got to be more elegant commands, right? Or course there are.

I remember Mike Little explaining various quicker ways to do this on the train back from Edinburgh, but as my memory is a sieve I had to go and Google them just now. Hopefully writing the incantations down will brand them into my neurons… here goes.

To view the command history naturally, the command is pretty simple:

SWMBP:~ simon$ history
    3  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php 6
    4  sh ./netbeans.sh 
    5  nbopen ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php 6
    6  nbopen ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php
    7  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php
    8  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php
    9  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php
   10  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php 6
   11  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php 8
   12  sh ./netbeans.sh ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/index.php 8
   13  ls -alh
   14  chmod u+x netbeans.sh 
   15  ls -alh
   16  mv netbeans.sh netbeans.command
   17  ls -alh
   18  open .
   19  pwd
   20  apache2ctl restart
   21  cd ~/Projects/FSD
   22  svn info .

This is better than simply lessing ~/.bash_history because you can use those numerical prefixes to execute the command. So to repeat command 15 I can just hit:


I can search the command history by piping the results of history into grep; so to find all previous incantations involving curl I can use:

SWMBP:~ simon$ history | grep curl
   66  curl http://google-maps-utility-library-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/markermanager/src/markermanager.js > ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/MarkerManager/markermanager.js
   67  curl http://google-maps-utility-library-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/markermanager/examples/weather_map.html > ~/Projects/Promotone/htdocs/MarkerManager/examples-weather-map.html 
  104  curl -I http://google-maps-utility-library-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/markermanager/docs/reference.html
  105  curl http://google-maps-utility-library-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/markermanager/examples/weather_map.html | subl
  106  curl http://google-maps-utility-library-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/markermanager/docs/reference.html | subl
  107  curl http://google-maps-utility-library-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/markermanager/examples/weather_map.html | subl
  209  curl -I http://wwwrollingstones.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/themes/rolling-stones-2012/style.css?ver=8
  211  curl -I http://wwwrollingstones.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/themes/rolling-stones-2012/style.css?ver=8
  228  curl http://www.4wfilm.org/

Again, I can use the command history number to execute a command, e.g. !67.

There’s a simpler way to search for the immediately previous command, so I can search for the last use of curl by hitting ctrl+r which gets me:

(reverse-i-search)`curl': curl http://www.4wfilm.org/

I can then hit enter, or hit the right arrow to edit the command.

Finally there’s the simple up arrow, to iterate through all previous commands in turn. Oh, and not forgetting tab completion for commands and paths: so I can type cur and then hit tab once, and it’ll complete to curl…unless I have multiple available paths and commands starting with cur, at which point I can hit tab twice to see all available possibilities.

So… will I remember these things now I’ve written them up? Only time will tell.

Many thanks and a heavy tip o’the hat towards The Geek Stuff’s 15 examples to master the Linux command line.

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