Search Shell Command History

We use couple of hundreads of command in daily basis. Most of them are actually repeated several time. The question remain open how do I search old command history under bash shell and modify or reuse it?

Now a days almost all modern shell allows you to search command history if enabled by user. Use history command to display the history list with line numbers. Lines listed with with a * have been modified by user.

Shell history search command

Type history at a shell prompt:
$ history

It will display the list of all used commandline history with an serial number.

To search particular command, enter:
$ history | grep command-name
$ history | egrep -i 'scp|ssh|ftp'
Emacs Line-Edit Mode Command History Searching

To get previous command containing string, hit [CTRL]+[r] followed by search string:


To get previous command, hit [CTRL]+[p]. You can also use up arrow key.


To get next command, hit [CTRL]+[n]. You can also use down arrow key.


fc command

Apart from hostory command there are fc command to extract the command from history. The fc stands for either "find command" or "fix command.

For example list last 10 command, enter:
$ fc -l 10
To list commands 130 through 150, enter:
$ fc -l 130 150
To list all commands since the last command beginning with ssh, enter:
$ fc -l ssh
You can edit commands 1 through 5 using vi text editor, enter:
$ fc -e vi 1 5

Delete command history

The -c option causes the history list to be cleared by deleting all of the entries:
$ history -c