I've tried to search in ~/.bash_history for my recent commands while in a terminal session but they just weren't there. I guess this is because I have multiple terminal sessions open.

Is there a way that I can sync (ie. sync-push or sync-write-out) the current terminal session's command history into the bash_history file (without closing the session and losing that environment)?

(It would be remotely similar in idea to how the sync command stores the file-system modifications on some systems.)

I imagine I could set up bash to preserve multiple session history but the ability to push the current history buffer would still be useful in scenarios when you are working on a new machine and you accidentally forgot to set up bash the way you may would have wanted.


Add this line to .bashrc:

export PROMPT_COMMAND="history -a; history -n"

Open new terminal and check.


  • history -a appends new history lines to history file.
  • history -n tells bash to read lines that is not read from history file to current history list of session.
  • PROMPT_COMMAND: contents of this variable is run as regular command before bash show prompt. So every time after you execute a command, history -a; history -n is executed, and your bash history is synced.
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  • thanks! I don't know why did I get permission denied before but with new terminals now this seems to work as expected! I guess I should normally be able to use history -a in a terminal with unmodified bashrc too. – n611x007 May 22 '14 at 11:40
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    when do one have to start to worry about the performance implications of this? (I'm thinking about low-end devices, not sure how big overhead this makes.) – n611x007 May 22 '14 at 11:42
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    Also you might already have a prompt command, in this case it is better to use export PROMPT_COMMAND="${PROMPT_COMMAND};history -a; history -n" – Fabian May 22 '14 at 13:02
  • If ${PROMPT_COMMAND} is empty this gives an error because of the leading ; – Boris Däppen Mar 20 '17 at 13:16
  • @BorisDäppen is right, but this is easily remedied export PROMPT_COMMAND="${PROMPT_COMMAND}${PROMPT_COMMAND:+;}history -a; history -n" – TML Jun 11 '18 at 15:15

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