Terminal cheatsheet

Learn some important UNIX commands

Authored by
CS193 Team
March 14, 2021

Basic UNIX Terminal Guide

pwd (Print Working Directory)

Description

Prints path of current directory. (Think: what is the address of the folder I’m viewing?)

Example

pwd

ls (List)

Description

Prints contents of current directory. (What stuff is in the current folder?)

Tags

  • -a = all files (include hidden files)

  • -l = detailed list

Arguments

Path to the folder you want to see the contents of (Leave blank to see current folder contents)

Example

ls -al

cd (Change Directory)

Description

Move to the specified path. (I want to go somewhere, and I need to tell the terminal where.

Arguments

Exact path of the folder you want to move to, or just a subdirectory

Syntax

cd Directory

Example

cd ~/Documents

rm (Remove)

Description

Permanently deletes a file or folder (No trash/recycling bin!)

Tags

  • -r - Delete a folder and its contents

  • -f - Stop confirmation prompt for write-protected files

Arguments

Path to the folder/file you want to delete

Syntax

rm [TAGS] Path

Example

rm -rf ~/Documents/Junk

mv (Move)

Description

Move an existing file somewhere else. It can also be used to rename files.

Arguments

  1. The file you want to move

  2. The destination

Example

mv ~/Documents/source/file.txt ~/Documents/destination/file.txt

mv ~/old_name.txt ~/new_name.txt

cp (Copy)

Description

Copy files or folders to a new location

Syntax

cp Source Destination

cp File-1 File-2 File-3 ... Destination

Example

cp ~/Documents/source/file.txt ~/Documents/destination/file.txt

cp ~/Desktop/Name.java ~/Desktop/Age.java ~/CS180/Homework_1

clear

Description

Clear the Terminal Screen

Example

$ clear

top

Description

See what programs are currently running

Example

top

killall

Description

Kill all programs with the specified program_name

Syntax

killall Program_Name

Example

killall firefox

touch

Description

Creates a new file in the location specified in the argument

Arguments

The files that are to be created

Syntax

touch File-1 File-2 File-3 ...

Example

touch ~/Documents/file1.txt ~/CS193/HW2/file2.txt

Other Contents

Files and Folders with Spaces

If a path includes files or folders with spaces, either use quotations marks (” “) or a backslash (\) before the space. For example:

~/"My Files"/test.txt

or

~/My\ Files/test.text

Shortcuts

  • ~ - Home Directory

  • . - Current Directory

  • .. - Parent Directory

Aliases

  1. Aliases are set in ~/.bashrc

  2. Add a line to ~/.bashrc that looks like: alias <shortcut>=“<command>”

  3. Save file, tell bash to reload: $ source ~/.bashrc

Wildcards

Description

Used to include a group of files with smiliar characteristics.

They can be used with nearly any UNIX command.

Example

  • cp ~/Desktop/*.java ~/Documents/Project

    • This command will copy all .java files found in the Desktop directory into the Documents/Project folder.
  • mv ~/Desktop/file* ~/Documents

    • This command will copy all files that begin with “file” in the name into the Documents directory.

Vim and Nano Customization

From Lecture 2, you should have learned about how Vim enables commands by typing colon “:” followed by your command. However, there are some commands you don’t want to have to type every time. For example, it’s pretty normal to want line numbers whenever you open a file. But having to type :set number every time you run Vim kinda sucks. How can we avoid this?

Your ~/.vimrc (Vim Run Control) file controls what commands will run every time Vim is invoked. You can customize it to your heart’s content.

You can disable this at any time within a file by typing :set nonumber within Vim, or by deleting it from your ~/.vimrc and then re-opening Vim again.

As you can imagine, there are thousands of commands you can leverage in your ~/.vimrc file. For a great resource on customization, read this article.

A favorite quote from that article that you should definitely adhere to is:

“Don’t put any lines in your vimrc that you don’t understand.”

For those who are using nano, here is an article about nano customization. Similar to Vim, you add your commands in your ~/.nanorc file.

Category: technical

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