Linux tip: find your bash command in less than 3 seconds


Many Linux users usually need to repeat the same command over and over again. For the newbie she will often re-write the whole command. The average use might already know that there’s something called a bash history and so she would use the up and down arrows to navigate through the history. It will take a while to find the needed command.

The more advanced user would know the trick I am about to tell you to find the appropriate command in less than 3 seconds.

This is done with something called “reverse-i-search”.
The trick is simple:

  1. Ctrl+R
  2. start typing any part of the command
  3. Press the return key.

The Ctrl+R will display the following in the terminal:



You will see the history displaying previously run commands until you get an exact match of the one you are typing. This takes less than a 3 seconds if you know which key letters to use.

For example, everyday I issue a command to suspend my laptop at 0645. to do this I need to run the following command:

echo pm-suspend | sudo at -t MMDDhhmm

where ” MMDDhhmm ” represents the month, day of the month followed by the hour and minute the command should suspend the computer. In the image below this is 06060645 representing month 6, day 6 of this month and at 6 o’clock and 45 minutes in the morning. Note that to suspend at night you need to use the 24-hour format (e.g; 2345 for 1145)

Instead of having to write the whole line, I use the above trick along and just type the first three letters of suspend:

Ctrl+R then "sus"

Ctrl+R then “sus”

For this command all I have to edit is the day of the month (i.e; 06) to the day of interest. It depends on the command you use and what you want to do, you may need to edit a few characters, several, or none.

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