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Creating Aliases on Linux and Mac

alanjc profile image Alan Constantino ・2 min read

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Note: The following steps should also apply to MacOS as well.

Are you tired of typing long commands into the terminal? Did you misremember a flag causing an error making you pull out your hair for 2 minutes only to realize that flag doesn't exist? Well worry no more because I'll be showing you how to create aliases for all of those pesky hard-to-remember commands.

What are aliases?

An alias is just a fancy term for nicknaming a certain command.

They are very useful because instead of typing out a long command with several flags and options, you can nickname it to a shorter command (i.e. give it an alias) and simply remember the shorter command.

Editing the ".bashrc" File

The first step in creating aliases is to open up a new terminal window and head over to your user's directory like so:

cd /home/<username>
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Note: By convention, you would usually define your aliases inside of the ".bashrc" file but because defining all of your aliases here can get out of hand pretty quick, we'll be creating a separate file in which we'll be defining our aliases.

From here, you'll want to open up the ".bashrc" file like so:

sudo nano .bashrc
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Inside of ".bashrc" you'll want to paste in the following snippet of code:

# Alias
if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
    . ~/.bash_aliases
fi
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The snippet of code above simply tells bash that if the file ".bash_aliases" exists then load it and run it.

Now, enter CTRL + X then Y then ENTER to save the file.

Creating Aliases

Inside of the "/home/" directory, you'll want to create a new file called ".bash_aliases." You can do so with the following command:

touch .bash_aliases
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It's in this file that you'll want to create your aliases. Open up the ".bash_aliases" file like so:

sudo nano .bash_aliases
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Now, to create an alias you can do the following:

# MAKING AN ALIAS
## alias <name of alias>="<bash command>"
##
## Example:
## alias l="ls -lah"
##
## To apply changes run the following:
## source ~/.bashrc

alias l="ls -lah"
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To save your file you can do CTRL + X then Y then ENTER.

Now, enter one last command to load our aliases.

source ~/.bashrc
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That's it!

Now, if you type in your custom alias into the terminal, it would be like if you were actually typing the longer command that you aliased.

Note: Every time you edit the ".bash_aliases" file you will have to reload the ".bashrc" file or start a new terminal session for the changes to take effect.

Thanks and have a good one!

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