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How To Quickly Access Files and Directories in Terminal without Typing the Full Path

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Navigating through files and directories in the terminal can be a tedious task, especially when dealing with long path names. However, there are several ways to simplify this process and increase your productivity. This article will guide you through various methods to quickly access files and directories in the terminal without typing the full path.

Quick Answer

Tab Completion, using the cd command, leveraging command history, and switching to the zsh shell are all effective methods to quickly access files and directories in the terminal without typing the full path.

Tab Completion

One of the most common and convenient ways to access files and directories quickly is by using Tab Completion. This feature allows you to start typing the name of the directory or file, and by pressing the Tab key, the terminal will auto-complete the rest of the path for you.

For instance, if you have a directory named Documents, you can type Doc and press Tab. The terminal will automatically complete it to Documents if there are no other directories starting with Doc. If there are multiple options, pressing Tab again will display all possible completions.

Using cd Command

The cd command, short for ‘change directory’, is a fundamental command used to navigate through directories in the terminal. To quickly access a directory, you can use the cd command followed by the directory name.

For example, if you want to navigate to the directory /var/www/html/nauv/system/config, you can simply type cd nauv/system/config. Here, cd is the command to change the directory, and nauv/system/config is the relative path to the directory you want to navigate to.

Leveraging Command History

The terminal keeps a record of all the commands you’ve executed in the current session, and you can easily access this history by using the up and down arrow keys. This feature can be particularly useful when you want to re-execute a command without typing it again.

For instance, if you have recently accessed a file or directory, you can press the up arrow key to scroll through your command history and find the command. Once you’ve found it, you can simply press Enter to execute the command again.

Switching to zsh Shell

If you’re looking for more advanced auto-completion capabilities, you might consider switching to the zsh shell. zsh allows you to type the initial letters of the path, such as v/w/h/n/a/b, and then press Tab to let zsh expand it to the full path.

For example, if you want to navigate to /var/www/html/nauv/system/config, you can type v/w/h/n/s/c and press Tab. zsh will automatically expand it to the full path, saving you from typing the entire thing.


Navigating through files and directories in the terminal doesn’t have to be a cumbersome process. By utilizing features like Tab Completion, the cd command, command history, and advanced shells like zsh, you can significantly speed up your workflow and increase your efficiency.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you use these shortcuts, the more intuitive they will become. Happy navigating!

How can I enable Tab Completion in my terminal?

Tab Completion is usually enabled by default in most modern terminals. However, if it is not working for you, you can check if it is enabled by typing echo $SHELL in the terminal. If the output is /bin/bash, then Tab Completion should be enabled. If not, you can enable it by modifying your shell configuration file (e.g., .bashrc, .zshrc) and adding the following line: source /etc/bash_completion. Save the file and restart your terminal for the changes to take effect.

Can I use Tab Completion for commands other than `cd`?

Yes, Tab Completion can be used for various commands in the terminal. For example, when executing a command that requires a file or directory as an argument, you can start typing the file or directory name and press Tab to auto-complete it. This works for commands like rm, cp, mv, and many others. Tab Completion is a powerful feature that can significantly speed up your workflow.

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