After I upgraded to OS X I am not able to use my ~/.inputrc bindings to search through the shell command history:

# these allow you to start typing a command and
# use the up/down arrow to auto complete from
# commands in your history
"\e[B": history-search-forward
"\e[A": history-search-backward

Any idea what I have to change or do? Are there any default keys for that I could use?

  • 1
    I don't know what could be wrong, but for comparison my .inputrc has the same bindings as yours and they work (Mac OS X Lion 10.7.1). In fact, if I remove my .inputrc altogether, the arrow keys still work, since by default they map to similar history commands, as shown by bind -P. What happens to the up/down arrow keys if you remove (or rename) your .inputrc file?
    – Chris Page
    Sep 26, 2011 at 11:52

3 Answers 3


The up/down history scrolling in Terminal only works in bash, not sh. Try typing bash in Terminal, and see whether the arrow keys work. If this is the case, you can go to preferences and set your default login shell to /bin/bash.


For those who are looking for Page Up/ Page Down key instead of up/down arrow. Use the below settings.

# Page Up/Down
"\e[5~": history-search-backward
"\e[6~": history-search-forward

Tested with iterm and bash version 3.2


For searching your history, you can also use a nifty feature of the bash shell.

This maybe a little off topic, but in bash shell you can use CTRL-R to search backwards in your shell history.

Example - search for ssh connections in your history:

tatooine-2257:~ mallert$
(reverse-i-search)`ssh': ssh mallert@localhost

And when I hit CTRL-R again, bash does a search within the former search results:

tatooine-2257:~ mallert$
(reverse-i-search)`ssh': ssh localhost

And you can hit CTRL-R again and again. You can also work with regular expressions.

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