January 26, 2021
The Bash Special Characters You Should Know About


Not all characters are equal in Bash. A few of them perform particular features, tweak instructions, and assist us manipulate knowledge. That’s why we’ve compiled the next listing with an important Bash particular characters. Learn on to learn the way to make use of them and the way they will make your every day Bash life simpler.

Folder Path Separator (/)

In Bash, the forward-slash (/)separates the components of a path, the subfolders-within-folders. To go to the folder named “footage” inside your private home folder, you’ll have to make use of the command cd as:

The Bash Special Characters You Should Know About

All the pieces after a ahead slash within the above instance resides inside what precedes the slash.

Residence Listing (~)

As a substitute of typing the total identify of your private home folder in your Bash terminal, you should utilize the tilde character (~). For instance, to go to your private home folder, use:

It’s also possible to incorporate it into extra complicated paths. For instance, to edit a file named “mydata.txt” contained in the “Private” folder in your Residence listing, use:

Present / Above Folder (.)

You need to use a single (.) or double dot (..)to outline whether or not an motion must be carried out inside the present listing or the one above, respectively. A single dot (.) maps to the present folder whereas a double dot (..) maps to the folder above it.

Let’s say you’re within the folder “/residence/USERNAME/footage” and wish to execute the script known as “transform_images.sh” inside the identical listing. On this case, kind:

If, after executing the script, you wish to return to the folder above the one you’re at present in, kind:

That will return you from the folder “/residence/USERNAME/footage” to “/residence/USERNAME.”

Feedback and Cancels (#)

The hash image (#) is extra helpful when writing Bash scripts because it permits you to add feedback to them for future reference. Bash ignores every part following a hash image.

Within the following script, the primary line defines it’s a Bash script, the second is a remark that’s ignored, and the third is a typical copy command:

Hashes are helpful even if you happen to’re not writing a script since they will let you cancel components of a command. To see that in motion, attempt the next easy command:

Then, attempt the next as an alternative:

You’ll solely see “I’m” returned within the second model as a result of the hash may have canceled every part that adopted after.

Ranges ([])

You’ll be able to outline character ranges by enclosing them in brackets ([]). To see that in motion, let’s say you wish to search for folder names that begin with both D or M. Sort:

The Bash Special Characters You Should Know About

Maybe you’re in a folder full of subfolders named after every year as an alternative. To repeat the folders for the earlier 5 years into /residence/USERNAME/backup, use:

You’ll be able to even simplify them additional with a touch (-):

Bash will iterate from 5 to 9 to incorporate the numbers between them.

Redirection (<>)

Utilizing angle brackets (<>), you possibly can redirect a command’s enter or output. For instance, the next command:

will redirect the output of ls and reserve it to the “listing.txt” file.

Word {that a} single right-angle bracket (>) appends a command’s output to a file. For those who re-run the identical command, it’s going to append its output to the tip of the prevailing content material. To interchange its content material with new outcomes, use two right-angle brackets (>>):

Pipes (|)

You’ll be able to mix completely different instructions into a bigger entire to realize extra complicated outcomes through the use of pipes (|). They’re considerably much like redirection (extra on their similarities and variations right here).

Suppose you might have an enormous file with 1000’s of entries and wish to find your identify in it. As a substitute of looking for it in a textual content editor, do the next:

The Bash Special Characters You Should Know About

On this case, the output of “entries.txt” can be piped to the grep command.

Command Separator (;)

Bash permits you to situation a number of instructions in a single go by separating them with semicolons (;). For instance, to repeat two folders to 2 completely different locations with one command:

The semicolon separates the 2 instructions and tells Bash to execute them sequentially. Word that you should utilize greater than two instructions if you want.


You’ve most likely already used the asterisk

in some instructions. It matches any sequence of characters and permits actions like copying all JPG recordsdata from one folder to a different:

The query mark (?) can also be a wildcard in Bash however solely matches a single character. For instance:

The above command will copy all jpg recordsdata in folders that start with “201.” For the reason that wildcard interprets to any alphanumeric character, not solely numbers, the above command would additionally copy any folder that could be named “201A” or “201z.”

Launch in Background (&)

You’ll be able to run instructions as background processes simply by appending the command with an ampersand image (&):

The above will begin copying the file huge_file.zip and instantly transfer to the background, letting you retain utilizing the terminal. The command will routinely exit when it completes. If you wish to carry it ahead once more, you are able to do so by typing fg adopted by Enter.

Variables ($)

The greenback signal ($) permits you to arrange variables to be used in your instructions. To see them in motion, attempt coming into the next in your terminal:

The Bash Special Characters You Should Know About

Word that there’s no greenback signal when assigning values to variables.

Escapes () and Quotes (”)

If you wish to use any of the particular characters as it’s in a command, you’ll have to flee it. You are able to do that by previous the particular character with a backslash (). For instance, if in case you have a file with a reputation that features an exclamation mark, you’d should kind ! as an alternative for Bash to interpret it as an exclamation mark and never as a particular character.

One other manner could be utilizing both single (”) or double-quotes (“”). By enclosing a string in quotes, any particular character in will probably be handled because the precise character. There’s a distinction between single and double quotes, too. Single quotes will consider the enclosed string as textual content whereas double quotes will let you use variables ($) inside the enclosed string.

Wrapping Up

The above aren’t the one particular characters in Bash, however they’re those we think about most helpful for our every day adventures within the terminal. Don’t overlook to take a look at these keyboard shortcuts to rapidly transfer round in Bash. Do tell us within the feedback part beneath if we have now missed any essential particular character.


The Bash Special Characters You Should Know About
Odysseas KourafalosOK’s actual life began at round 10, when he received his first pc – a Commodore 128. Since then, he is been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, making an attempt to unfold The Phrase Of Tech to anybody sufficient to hear. Or, moderately, learn.

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