I'm a Vim user, so I'm learning Emacs commands for use in the Bash CLI. I know that on my systems I can use Vim-keybindings in Bash but I'd like to learn how to use it effectively in its default configuration.

First order of business: Moving around. Let us assume that I've got the following on the CLI:

$ mv some_long_file_name.txt some_long_file_name_with_slight_change.txt

I'm at the end of the line and I'd like to go back 4 words. In Emacs one would Ctrl+U, 4, Alt+B however on the Bash CLI Ctrl+U erases to the beginning of the line. How to perform the motion, then?

Add auxiliary question, if I may? Assuming that I had successfully completed a move command and I'd like to do it again. How might I do that? So if I contorted my fingers on 5 keypresses to move back 4 words, how might I move back another 4 words?

Note that I am interested in learning how to use the default configuration. I don't want to configure Zsh, Vim keybindings, or .bash_profile.

1 Answer 1


Alt-4 Alt-B (like in ksh and zsh, and tcsh where they all most probably copied it from). That assumes the terminal sends the sequence of characters ESC, 4, ESC, b upon those key presses. The same combination works in Emacs too, by the way.

I'm not aware that there's any way to repeat a motion (other than the search ones).

Using Ctrl-R, Ctrl-S (except that for that one, for bash you may need to disable terminal xon) might be a more effective way to move the cursor around.


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