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My problem is: whenever I'm coding, I work inside folders that are inside other folders and it's a long way to type:

cd /folder1/folder2/.../folderN

I know it's possible to make a shortcut to the folder using alias. So it would be:

alias ep="cd /Users/thi/Dropbox/CurrentProject"

My question is, where should I put this alias? Inside /etc/bashrc? Or should I create a file called ~/.profile and place it there? Where should I put it?

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I think what would take you to the next level is learning about shell completion. bash's completion is pretty basic, but zsh has extensible completion. For example ls -l P/H/O/Cla<tab> expands to ls -l Projects/Home/OpenGL/Clams –  Mark Aug 23 '13 at 18:47

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I keep aliases in ~/.bash_profile.

Terminal and iTerm 2 open new shells as login shells by default. When bash is invoked as an interactive login shell, it reads ~/.bash_profile but not ~/.bashrc. The terminal emulators on other platforms often open new shells as non-login shells, so for example bash reads ~/.bashrc but not ~/.bash_profile. OS X users often use ~/.bash_profile as the personal configuration file corresponding to ~/.bashrc on other platforms, but it is also possible to source ~/.bashrc from ~/.bash_profile or to tell Terminal or iTerm 2 to open new shells as non-login shells.

If both ~/.profile and ~/.bash_profile exist, bash only reads ~/.bash_profile when it is invoked as an interactive login shell. ~/.profile is also used by other shells and programs that might not understand the same configuration options as bash.

/etc/bashrc is owned by root, and it might get replaced when you upgrade OS X.

See man bash|less +^INVOCATION or https://www.gnu.org/software/bash/manual/html_node/Bash-Startup-Files.html for more information.

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Typically you put alias definitions into the same file as your $PATH definitions which is probably ~/.bashrc.

Technically speaking an alias is not a shortcut to a folder but for any shell command. So you can also have things like

alias heal='xattr -d com.apple.quarantine'
alias la='ls -lFa'
alias ll='ls -lF'
alias ls='ls -FG'
alias show-path='echo -e ${PATH//:/\\n}'

to make your life easier. Aliases are replaced as-is by the shell so if you run

heal downloadedFile.dmg

it gets expanded to

xattr -d com.apple.quarantine downloadedFile.dmg

and executed afterwards. If you need more flexibility with parameters you may want to look into shell functions (but that probably should go into another question).

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i am not expert in bash but i think you should put your alias inside .bashrc in your home directory.

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That is what Patrix said. ~ is a shell shortcut for $HOME. –  Mark Aug 23 '13 at 18:43

This answer neatly summarises what ideally belongs in each of ~/.bashrc, ~/.profile, and ~/.bash_profile. In summary:

  • ~/.bash_profile should be super-simple and just load .profile and .bashrc (in that order)

  • ~/.profile has the stuff NOT specifically related to bash, such as environment variables (PATH and friends)

  • ~/.bashrc has anything you'd want at an interactive command line. Command prompt, EDITOR variable, bash aliases for my use

    A few other notes:

  • Anything that should be available to graphical applications OR to sh (or bash invoked as sh) MUST be in ~/.profile

  • ~/.bashrc must not output anything

  • Anything that should be available only to login shells should go in ~/.profile

  • Ensure that ~/.bash_login does not exist.

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The short answer is: (generally)

Add it to ~/.bash_profile

echo 'alias ep="cd $HOME/Dropbox/CurrentProject"' >> ~/.bash_profile

NOTE: There shouldn't be any space between the alias/variable and the equals sign ("=") and the value. If your value has spaces then the whole value should be put in quotes.

A better answer is: (probably)

Try setting an environment variable, instead. This is probably more like what you actually want.

echo 'export EP="$HOME/Dropbox/CurrentProject"' >> ~/.bash_profile
echo 'alias ep="cd $EP"' >> ~/.bash_profile

NOTE: That environment variables are accessed by prepending the dollar sign ("$"). However, when being defined, the dollar sign ("$") should be omitted.

An alternative answer is: (possibly)

Symbolic-Links. AKA. Symlinks. {FKA. Aliases. (Mac OS)}. {BKA. Shortcuts. (Windows OS)}.

ln -s <dirA/subB/fileC_in> <dirX/subY/symbZ_out>

NOTE: symlinks are sometimes denoted by prepending the ampersand sign ("@").

locked by Ian C. Aug 27 at 19:27

This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved. For more info visit meta.

Please see the site chat channel if you want to discuss the lock on this post and future edits. –  Ian C. Aug 27 at 19:29

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