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How to create command-line keystroke aliases in Linux

If you can't remember your favorite command line options, consider creating aliases for the ones you use most often.
disasembled keyboard keys

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As a solutions engineer, most of my work happens on the Linux terminal. As you continue to use the CLI, you'll begin to notice that most of the commands that you use on a daily basis are usually a repetitive subset of the general commands, to make our lives simple, as a thumb rule we need to keep these commands as easy to use as possible. We already have shortlisted CLI commands like ps, ls, sed, grep, etc, using even these can be made simple and fun by using keystroke aliases.

This was all very well thought about and we are fortunate that bash provides us with the option of using keystroke aliases to be used. Let’s see what we can accomplish by simply saving our day-to-day commands as aliases/shorthand commands in Bash. Ready?

How to save keystroke aliases

This is very simple and straight forward, Let’s say you want to list all the contents of a folder instead of typing ls -latr, you want to use just ls by using the alias command:

$ alias ls='ls -latr' 

You can save your keystrokes, but this will only be saved until you exit the shell. Also, please pay attention to the spacing in the above command.

What if I want to temporarily mask this above-declared alias: Just use \ls and you will get just the default functionality.


  • What if you want to remove the alias in the present shell?
  • Just type unalias ls

Now, we have an idea on how to make our own short-hand commands in Bash, but we also need this to be saved when we re-login to our bash shell. To do that you need to save the alias command in a special file called ~/.bashrc where you can save all your keystroke aliases which will persist even after you re-login to your shell. Don't forget to source your .bashrc file when you're finished adding your aliases to it, so that your aliases become active without logout/login.

$ source ~/.bashrc 

Here are some cool examples which I use in my .bashrc file and you can incorporate them if you find them beneficial.

Windows-like experience in Linux

alias copy="cp"

alias rename="mv"

alias md="mkdir"

alias rd="rmdir"

alias del="rm -i"

Directory changes made easy

alias ..='cd ..'

alias ...='cd ../../../'

alias ....='cd ../../../../'

Update commands

alias update='yum update'

alias updatey='yum -y update'

Subscription manager aliases

alias sml=`subscription-manager list --available --all`

alias smr=`subscription-manager remove --all`

A random list of useful commands

alias root='sudo -i'

alias su='sudo -i'

alias reapache='systemctl restart httpd'

alias cpuinfo=’lscpu’

alias tcpdump=’tcpdump -i eth0`

alias ping=’ping -c 5’

#browser selection

alias chrome='/opt/google/chrome/chrome'

alias opera='/opt/opera/opera'

alias firefox=’/opt/firefox/firefox’

alias df='df -khT'

alias du='du -h'

alias top='atop'


You can go on adding various aliases, but the goal of this article is to make your life easy by saving the regularly used commands into the .bashrc file and using a shortcut alias to call the command with options.

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Topics:   Linux  
Author’s photo

Shashank Nandishwar Hegde

I work as a Solutions Engineer at Red Hat and my day-to-day work involves OpenShift and Ansible. I'm highly passionate about open source software, cloud, security, and networking technologies. More about me

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