Short Tip: Bash tab completion with one tab

Tab completion is awesome. It helps to quickly call commands without typing it entirely. For example in my home directory there is the directory Downloads. If I want to change into it in a Bash-shell I simply have to enter cd Dow [tab]. After the tab-press the directory name is completed automatically. To enable this feature you have to install the appropriate package. In Feodra it is bash-completion, most distributions call the package similar.

However, sometimes there are more choices:

$ cd Do
Dokumente/ Downloads/

In that case tab has to be pressed two times to unveil the two options. To have both options already on the first tab, create the file ~/.inputrc and enter the lines

set show-all-if-ambiguous on

As usual, if you have other useful and short tips regarding Bash or the command line please let me know.

(Yes, I know about zsh’s great completion tool. Yes, I already used zsh quite some time. No, a tip how to set up Bash/ZSH with a fifty lines bashrc/zshrc is not suited for a comment here.)


9 thoughts on “Short Tip: Bash tab completion with one tab”

  1. Here are two short tips for bash:

    1) Doing things like that often?
    $ svn diff foo.cpp bar.h
    $ svn ci foo.cpp bar.h
    And do you mainly use the cursor keys to replace diff by ci in the second command?
    Instead, do this:
    $ svn diff foo.cpp bar.h
    $ ^diff^ci^
    You can even add things like “-m ‘some comment'” in the second command

    2) Similarly to the one above, when doing things like
    $ cp foo.cpp /a/very/long/path/here
    $ ls /a/very/long/path/here
    You can shorten it to
    $ cp foo.cpp /a/very/long/path/here
    $ ls !!:2

  2. Some 5 years ago, this default was changed and annoyed me until started digging inspired by ur post:

    set mark-symlinked-directories on

    it is so good to have it back.

  3. put this into your .bashrc:

    # use a fancy prompt ๐Ÿ™‚
    PS1=”$PS1 \`if [ \$? = 0 ]; then echo -e ‘\[33[01;32m\]:)’;”
    PS1=”$PS1 else echo -e ‘\[33[01;31m\]:(‘; fi\`\[33[00m\] \$ ”
    export PS1

    Now your prompt will look like this:
    dh@eriador:~ ๐Ÿ™‚ $ # smily ๐Ÿ™‚ means return value of 0
    dh@eriador:~ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ $ # smily ๐Ÿ˜ฆ means return value is != 0

    I found it quite useful, thanks to Erlend for the tip.

  4. Do you really need bash-completion just for file and directory completion? I thought that worked by default, and bash-completion just added things like restricting cd to directories and tar to files with suitable extensions (like the zsh completion).

  5. Thx for the additional tips! However, I must admit that I already have my fancy command line prompt, I might post it here soon.

    randomguy3, yes, the bash-completion is usually only needed for the extended completion, you’re right.

  6. I really like this one…

    cd() {
    if [ “$PS1” ]
    if [ “$1” ]
    then builtin cd “$1” && ls
    else builtin cd && ls
    if [ “$1” ]
    then builtin cd “$1”
    else builtin cd

  7. One of the bash shortcuts I use the most, is “M-.” (meta-. or alt-.), which means “paste in the last argument of the last command”:

    $ ls /some/long/path/to/file.txt
    $ rm **press “M-.”**

    (if you instead want the, say third argument, then press M-3, M-.)

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