The Command Line Cheat Sheet

. Mostafa Lotfy

$ ls

 $ ls    # list all files and folders inside your current working directory. The current working directory is the folder where your terminal is open.

 $ ls -a   # Include hidden files in the list.

$ cd

 $ cd folderName   # Change the current directory to a folder inside it. Example: `cd documents` changes the directory from `~` to `Documents`.

 $ cd ..   # Move up one directory. Example: `cd ..` changes the directory from `~/Documents` to `~/`.

 $ cd ~    # Navigate to the `home` directory. The `~` sign is a shortcut to `/Users/yourUserName/`.

 $ cd ~/Documents    # Make any folder your current working directory by writing its path from the root `/` directory or from the home `~` directory.  This command will make `Documents` the current working directory.

 $ cd /    # Make the root folder the current directory.

$ pwd

 $ pwd   # Print Working Directory. Know which directory your terminal is open at. Get a path from the root `/` folder down to your current working directory.

$ clear

 $ clear    # Clears the terminal screen.

Command Structure

$ command -options arguments

 $ ls -a Documents   # `ls` is the command, `-a` is an option, and `Documents` is the argument.


$ cat

 $ cat file.txt   # Read a text file inside the terminal.

$ open

 $ open file.txt   # Open a file or folder inside the current directory. You can edit the file, save it, then get back to the terminal. Also, opens Folders in `Finder` and any type of file. When opening a file, the extension must be added after the name.

 $ open file.pdf   # Open any type of file. Add the extension to the end of the name.

 $ open folder   # Can open folders in `Finder`. Example: `$ open ~/documents` opens the documents folder in `Finder`.

$ touch

 $ touch newFile.txt   # Create a new empty text file inside the current directory.

 $ touch ~/desktop/newFile.txt   # Create a new empty text file inside any directory by adding a path. This command will create a new text file named newFile.txt on the Desktop folder.

$ nano

 $ nano fileName   # Create, read, or edit a text file inside the terminal. `ctrl+x` to exit, `Y` to save changes, then confirm the name of the file.

 $ nano ~/desktop/fileName   # Create or edit a text file directly on the `Desktop` without changing the current working directory to Desktop first.

$ echo

 $ echo "line to add" >> <fileName>   # Add a line of text to a file on the fly (without opening the file)

 $ echo "alias ..='cd ..'" >> ~/.zshrc   # Add an alias directly without the need to open or navigate.


$ mkdir

 $ mkdir newFolder # Create a new folder in the current working directory. Stands for make directory.

 $ mkdir ~/Documents/newFolder   # Create a new folder inside `Documents` without changing the current working directory to `Documents`.

$ rm-r

 $ rm -r folderName    # Delete files or folders without asking for confirmation!

$ mv

 $ mv Source Destination   # Move a file or folder from source to destination.

 $ mv ~/Documents/folder1 ~/Desktop/folder1    # Cut and paste between two different directories. Move the folder `folder1` from Docouments to Desktop.

 $ mv folder1 ~/Desktop/folder1    # Cut and paste from the current working directory. Move the folder `folder1` from the current working directory to the Desktop.

 $ mv fileName.jpeg newFileName.jpeg    # Rename in the same folder.

 $mv oldName ~/Documents/newName    # Move and rename, from the current directory to Documents.

 $ mv ~/Documents/oldName ~/Documents/newName    # Rename files and folders in any directory. Rename a folder in Documents.

$ cp

 $ cp Source Destination # Copy a file or folder, from a source to a destination.

 $ cp file.txt folder # Copy a file into a folder. Both are inside the current directory.

 $ $ cp file.txt file2.txt   # Duplicate file.txt inside the current directory and name the duplicate `file2.txt`.

 $ cp ~/Desktop/file2.txt ~/Documents/file2.txt   # Copy a file from a directory to another without changing the current directory. file2.txt will be copied from Desktop to Documents.

 $ cp -R folder1 ~/Documents/folder1   # Copy folders, by adding the `-R` option to the `cp` command. The `cp` command works on files by default. To make it work on folders, add the `-R` option.

$ du

 $ du -sh    # Get the total size of the current directory.

 $ du -sh ~/Documents    # Get the total size of any directory writing its address.

 $ du -sh *    # Get the size of each file and folder in the current directory.

 $ du -sh ~/documents/*    # Get the size of each file and folder in any direcotry.

Be More Efficient


 $ cd  ~/Doc*    # Use wildcards to be lazy and avoid writing long names. This command will change the current directory to the `Documents` folder. Could also just press tab for autocompletion.

 $ ls *.pdf    # Use wildcards creatively with other commands to do more. This command will only list pdf files inside our current directory.


 $ alias name='command'    # Shortcuts to write a shorter version to a command.

 $ alias ..='cd ..'    # Make an alias `..` as a shortcut to `cd ..`

To make an alias permenant add it to one of those text files:


cmd + T To open a new tab.

cmd + 2 Cmd and the tab number, to switch between tabs.

A minimal look

 ps1='$ '    # Remove everything before the `$` sign by adding this line to the `.zshrc`, or `.bash_profile` files.

Dealing with spaces

 $ touch 'new file.txt'    # Wrap the name of a file or folder in '' if they have spaces in their names.

$ man

 $ man du    # Use the `man` command on any command to open the manual and read more about how it works.

alt + click

alt + click To specify where to write instead of using the keyboard arrows.

Remember not to try to memorize commands it will happen automatically. You can refer to the command line cheat sheet when you get stuck.

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