These are a few of my favorite: Terminal Shortcuts

clickclickonsal profile image Sal Hernandez ・3 min read

Terminal: an interface where the user types and executes text based commands.

ISSA Terminal

I’ll admit that when I first opened the terminal in 2014, I disliked it. At the time, I strongly believed that using a Graphical User Interface, such as Finder on Mac, was much faster for things like deleting, copying, and creating files and folders. The tutorials and articles I would read kept insisting that the terminal was 🔑, though, so I kept going.
I’m glad I pushed through and kept learning to use the terminal! Eventually, with practice and consistency, the understanding and speed came. Now I barely use the GUI for managing my file system.
That said, the road wasn’t all smooth. There were a lot of terminal commands thrown at me during my journey. How was I supposed to memorize all of them??!!? At once?!?!

To prevent you from going through the same anxieties. I compiled a list of my Top Fave ❤️ Terminal shortcuts. 😁

ls List files and directories (Folders)

cd Change directory
pwd Print Working Directory (Shows the full pathname of the current working directory)

touch Create a new file

mkdir Create a new directory

cp Copy files or directories

mv Move (rename) files or directories

rm Remove files
rm -r Remove Directories & files in
Note: Therm command is really powerful. It deletes files/directories without recovery. (It doesn’t go to the trash bin)

Ctrl + A Gets the cursor at the beginning of the line
Ctrl + E Gets the cursor to the end.

Cmd + k (Mac) `Ctrl + L (Linux/Mac) Clears the Terminal Screen

And now for my absolute favorite ❤️: Tab auto-completion!

If you’re trying to remember a command, type at least one letter and hit tab twice and it will show you all the commands available based on the typed characters. If you type enough characters and only one match is left then it’ll auto-complete it for you. This works with all UNIX commands and even your file system.

Now go on and jump into your terminal, start playing with it & work your way towards becoming the terminal-ator. 😎

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This article originally published on the Color Coded Medium publication

Posted on Jul 28 '17 by:

clickclickonsal profile

Sal Hernandez


🇩🇴 Software Engineer | 🏃🏽‍♂️Runner | Master of Pun 🤓


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Sometimes even faster, !ls repeats the last command that started with ls (or any other sequence of characters).


This is easily my favorite as well.


Oh, this is really cool! I'm gonna keep this in mind next time I run into this!!!!

Tanks for the tip!!!


Just a heads up, touch isn't actually meant to create files (although it does it if the specified string doesn't exist), it is meant to update a file's timestamp (in case you point it to an already existing file).

You could also add the < operator - which does the same as cat, but is actually meant to redirect stuff into the stdout of your terminal.


Oh wow, I didn't know that about touch. Thank you for clarifying this here.

I tried the < & that didn't seem to work on mac or linux.


Try this:

echo "some text" > new_file.txt

or this (which means basically "write data to the file until you meet EOF label"):

cat > new_file.txt << EOF
new line
another line

> will rewrite contents of the file
>> will append to the end of the file


Weird, I've tried it in both systems and it works flawlessly.

Just to be sure, did you type in < filetoread? A lack of example might've been the problem in my post.


Try sudo !! when you forgot to put sudo in front of last command.


True! This is a good & powerful command. I'd like to mention that always understand what it is you're trying to do when you're using sudo. :-)

  • "open ." to open your current directory path in a Finder window in Mac

  • drag drop a file or directory into terminal from any application to automatically copy the text into the terminal window (handy for changing into directories within terminal)


Thanks for sharing your tips! These are awesome!
I use the first one all the time! I forgot to mention that one! :-)
The second one I didn't know about! That could come in handy in the future!
I learned something new! :-) Thank you, Scott!


I am the only dev at my job that uses command line Git...I am the only dev at my job that doesn’t think that Git sucks. I think people confuse the GUI with the underlying tech, ie, “I can’t find my stash in SourceTree, I really hate Git”.

I come from a strange time. Started on a PC using DOS a bunch to add Extended Memory and Shadow Memory to play games.

I “locked” down my windows install by renaming win.exe to tim.exe. I did a lot in the command prompt.

Then I became a .NET developer. Visual Sudio has always been either a click-me interface or use keyboard shortcuts interface. It rarely required command line. Even now I use it more with the Nugget Package Manager Console but still, for the last 10 years or so I haven’t used the command line much.

Then I got a Mac and I’m back to mostly terminal, (iTerm). So in my career I have gone from command line to GUI and back to command line.


==>(Cmd + k (Mac) `Ctrl + L (Linux/Mac) Clears the Terminal Screen)

In macOS Sierra, its Ctrl + L. Ctrl + k does not work.


That's because It's not Ctrl + K, it's Cmd + K :-)


Yup, works fine! Both are working Cmd + K and Ctrl + L


Using rm cannot be your favorite shortcut. I would suggest using trash-cli.


Whoa! It Cannot be my favorite shortcut? That's a very aggressive statement.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and they will determine what they consider their favorites.

Granted, rm is a very powerful command & I recommend everyone who's using it to fully understand what it does which I mention in my blog post.
It's one of my favorite shortcuts because when I delete stuff with it I know that it has been completely removed from my computer.


It's a bad practice to use rm — you're def entitled to your own opinion but be open to suggestions as well. You cannot always be right. Using rm is a bad practice. Things can go wrong and you can end up deleting your OS.

It is not bad practice to use rm. It is bad practice to use rm if you don't know what it does, but the same goes for running any command in the terminal.
The terminal is a very powerful tool & anything you run in it should be ran with a good understanding of what it is doing.


Ctrl + u is the first nature of Ctrl + l :)
I personally do both mechanically.
echo 'something' somewhere and echo 'something' >> somewhere is also a beginner one that helps quite often, say adding items in a .gitignore file.


Whoa! I love everyone who's been sharing their tips as well! I've always used Ctrl + C to jump to a fresh new line. Now I know that I can do Ctrl + u to clear out my terminal! :-)

The echo command is awesome as well! I forgot to mention a lot of good ones. 😅


Good intro!

A couple of things:

  • checkout iterm2.com/ when you have some spare time. I think it's better than the default OSX Terminal

  • if you work on computer you own you don't really need your name and computer's name in the prompt, this way you can save some room in the window


Thank you. Actually that terminal was iterm2! I'm a huge fan of it! :-)

Bullet point 2 is a really good tip. I think I'll do that now because you're right! Freeing up real estate on the terminal is a plus!!!


The z command is one of my favorites. You just type z dir and it searches all directories you visited for a directory name containing dir and jumps to the best match.


I kept the post tailored to beginners to make it easier to get familiar with the terminal.

The z command looks pretty cool but it doesn't have documentation on how to set it up, and this is one of the things I found hard for me in the beginning. I can figure out how to it up but not everyone can.

Maybe it would be cool for you to write a blog post on it ? Or maybe even submit a pull request on how to set it up.

brew install z

Then add

. `brew --prefix`/etc/profile.d/z.sh

To your .zshrc file.
That's it.

I used this blog post to turbocharge my terminal. (The post recommends iTerm over the classic Terminal but everything works as expected in Terminal)


I am one of the only people at my job that uses command line Git...I am also one of the only people at my job that doesn’t think that Git sucks.

I think people blame GUI errors on the platform, ie, “I cant find my stash in SourceTree, Git really sucks”.


Aw, that sucks to hear :-/ Git is awesome & I couldn't imagine developing without it!
I think you should try & give a tech talk at your job and show them the tips and tricks to using git on the command line. :-)


When my friend showed my tab auto-complete it changed my life lol


Word! Tab auto-complete, completes me 😂❤️


Great article!

How did you make your terminal prompt look this way? It looks very familiar, but I can't remember where did I see this.


it is good to alias rm to trash command.. it will become a life saver decision 😊


Typically when I alias things I will alias them to something shorter. I see no reason to alias rm specifically.
when I use alias it be something like this
git checkout = gc

It's about reducing key strokes 😃


I use a lot
du -sh */ | sort -h
To order current folder files by size


The -h flag comes invalid (I'm on a Mac). Thanks for that tip though! This is pretty cool!


They might've been going for sort -n instead. It sorts numerically instead of alphabetically (the only reasonable sort for du output). :-)


Took a UNIX class last December. I have to say, I wish I had kept more notes, but this was a lovely refresher to terminal! Thanks!


Another fast tip for
ls command
ls -l --sort <time | size>


ls -lrt sorts by time ascending so the file edited last is at the bottom.


move cursor one word left
alt/option + ←

move cursor one word right
alt/option + →


This is a good one, unfortunately, it doesn't work out of the box if you're using iterm.
For those using iterm & are looking to be able to do what Rus pointed out, check out this link coderwall.com/p/h6yfda/use-and-to-... !


I believe tab auto-completion is something that is not out-of-box terminal command but a Zsh/Oh-My-Zsh package one must install?