It’s helpful to learn a few Linux Keyboard Tricks. You may have noticed that when working with Linux at the command line, everything seems like a shortcut. In other words, instead of having descriptive commands such as list files, or change directory, we have things like ls and cd. What’s up with that? You might call it laziness, but really, its more of trying to get the most amount of work done with the fewest keystrokes. In this vein, there are a bunch of Linux keyboard tricks that we should know to help us along when making use of the command line. Let’s investigate this topic now.
Moving The Cursor At The Command Line
When at the command line, you are unable to use the mouse to move the cursor to different areas of text. At first this might seem like a hinderance, but there are plenty of tricks to allow you to move you cursor anywhere at will. These make use of the ALT key and the CTRL key. Here are a few options.
- ALT-B This moves the cursor back by one word
- ALT-F ALT-F sends the cursor forward by one word
- CTRL-E CTRL-E allows you to jump all the way to the end of the line
- CTRL-A CTRL-A moves the cursor to the start of a line
- CTRL-F Works the same as the right arrow key
- CTRL-B Works the same way as the left arrow key
Editing Text On The Command Line
It is also possible to edit text such as deleting, transposing, converting and so on. Let’s have a look at some of the various commands available.
- CTRL-U Cuts the text from where the cursor is located to the beginning of the line.
- CTRL-K Cuts the text from where the cursor is located to the end of the line.
- ALT-D Cuts the text from where the cursor is located to the end of the current word.
- ALT-backspace Cuts the text from the cursor location to the beginning of the word.
- CTRL-Y yanks the text from the register and inserts it at the location of the cursor.
Auto Complete In Linux With The Tab Key
If it is not already, the tab key may become one of your best friends. This is because you can use tab to easily auto complete linux commands and other things when you’re not sure what they are for. Let’s test it out on a few commands.
a2p apparmor_status apt-sortpkgs aa-exec apport-bug ar aa-status apport-cli arch accessdb apport-collect arp aclocal apport-unpack arpd aclocal-1.14 apropos as acpi_available apt at acpid apt-add-repository atd acpi_listen apt-cache atq add-apt-repository apt-cdrom atrm addgroup apt-config autoconf addpart apt-extracttemplates autoheader addr2line apt-ftparchive autom4te add-shell apt-get automake adduser aptitude automake-1.14 agetty aptitude-create-state-bundle autoreconf alert aptitude-curses autoscan alias aptitude-run-state-bundle autoupdate apm_available apt-key awk apparmor_parser apt-mark axi-cache
badblocks bsd-write byobu-screen base64 builtin byobu-select-backend basename bunzip2 byobu-select-profile bash busybox byobu-select-session bashbug byobu byobu-shell batch byobu-config byobu-silent bc byobu-ctrl-a byobu-status bdftopcf byobu-disable byobu-status-detail bdftruncate byobu-disable-prompt byobu-tmux beanstalkd byobu-enable byobu-ugraph bg byobu-enable-prompt byobu-ulevel bind byobu-export bzcat biosdecode byobu-janitor bzcmp blackfire byobu-keybindings bzdiff blackfire-agent byobu-launch bzegrep blkid byobu-launcher bzexe blkmapd byobu-launcher-install bzfgrep blockdev byobu-launcher-uninstall bzgrep bower byobu-layout bzip2 break byobu-prompt bzip2recover bridge byobu-quiet bzless bsd-from byobu-reconnect-sockets bzmore
Display all 100 possibilities? (y or n)
In this example we simply type the letter
a and then the tab key twice and it lists all of the possible commands that begin with
a. We do this again for the letter
b, and then
c, however since the letter
c would return 100 results, we chose not to list them. Try it out for yourself in your terminal.
Using Clear and History
One thing you’ll notice while working at the command line, is that the terminal quickly fills up with a lot of information from past commands, output, and so on. Many times, you’ll want to get a nice clear screen to work with without having to close and re-open the terminal. Thankfully, there’s a way to get a fresh start with the
clear command. In this snippet, we’ll take a look at the history of the commands we’ve been using, then get a fresh start with clear.
1 clear 2 ls 3 php --version 4 clear 5 composer --version 6 clear 7 exit 8 cd / 9 l 10 c 11 a 12 c 13 history 14 php --version 15 composer --version 16 c 17 history 18 ls 19 cd 20 top 21 pstree 22 c 23 history 24 ls -a .ba 25 ls -a 26 c 27 history
Linux Keyboard Tricks Summary
In reality, there are hundreds of tricks to use at the command line in Linux. We just took a look at a handful of useful ones here. Likely the most useful ones we’ll make use of are the tab for auto complete, history, and clear. One final helpful resource can be found at this handy cheat sheet if you’re interested.