If I perform a sequence of commands like:

$ ls
$ grep abc file.txt

and then use the up arrow key to get the previous one, the terminal will show the last cmd (which is the grep here)

But if I do something like this:

$ ls
$   grep abc file.txt

where grep is preceded by spaces, pressing up gives ls, not grep.

Why is this?


1 Answer 1


man bash:


A colon-separated list of values controlling how commands are saved on the history list. If the list of values includes ignorespace, lines which begin with a space character are not saved in the history list. A value of ignoredups causes lines matching the previous history entry to not be saved. A value of ignoreboth is shorthand for ignorespace and ignoredups.

  • 4
    and HISTCONTROL is set to ignoreboth in the default ~/.bashrc provided by debian at least. Feb 19, 2014 at 15:15
  • 2
    What is the use case of ignorespace? Sep 28, 2015 at 14:30
  • 2
    In Ubuntu 14.04 the default is ignoreboth which is kind-of annoying. May 9, 2016 at 8:01
  • 12
    Ciro, I assume it's so that you can enter command like echo "drop database mydb" | mysql -u root -pPassword and not have it saved in history.
    – Jeremy
    May 30, 2016 at 1:04
  • 2
    For mac users, HISTCONTROL is not set to anything, so you'll need to add it to your bash_profile or similar - unix.stackexchange.com/questions/115917/…
    – chrismarx
    Dec 26, 2018 at 19:00

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