You know about the
PATH environment variable. Did you know about
CDPATH? If you’ve been typing long
cd commands like me, this post is for you.
I came across this gem this morning, while reading Daniel Barrett’s Efficient Linux at the Command Line. It instructs the
cd command to search for the directory you specify in locations other than your current directory.
cd search path works like your command search path
$PATH. However, instead of finding commands, it finds the subdirectories. You can configure it with the shell variable
CDPATH, and it has the same format as the
PATH variable: a list of directories separated by colons.
Set this variable in your
~/.bashrc file to include the directories you visit most frequently.
Now, whenever you want to
cd into a directory, the shell will look through all the above places in addition to the current directory.
What’s more, the search is lightning fast. It looks only in parent directories that you specify and nothing else.
For example, let’s say you have a
$HOME/software/blog directory and you’ve configured the
CDPATH to include the
Now, if you type
cd blog from anywhere in the filesystem, the
cd command will take you to the
$HOME/software/blog directory, unless it finds another
blog directory in another pre-configured path. So the order of
CDPATH matters. If two directories in
$CDPATH have a subdirectory named
blog, the earlier parent wins.
In the above example,
cd will check the existence of the following directories in order, until it finds one or it fails.
- in the current directory
CDPATHwith your most important or frequently used parent directories, and you can directly
cdinto them or their subdirectories no matter where you are in the file system. You don’t have to type the full path anymore.
Trust me, this is pretty freaking cool. It has changed the way I use the shell.