I'm trying to create a convenience alias that will change directories and then start a node server in that directory. I have it working for the most part, there's just one little issue that I can't figure out.

When I set up my alias to just change the directory—in my ~/.bashrc file— I get the expected behavior:

alias ta='cd /Users/scotty/Develop/Meteor/task-assist' 

And what I mean by expected behavior is that when I run $ ta in the terminal, it not only changes the directory, but I can also open new tabs in the terminal and that directory carries over to the new tabs.

But for some reason when I add an additional command onto that alias to start a node server, and after running $ ta again, the current directory does not carry over to the new terminal tabs (new tabs just open at root). The directory changes and the server starts, but it's like the changed directory is not actually set in the terminal. When I kill the server ctrl +c, only then does the directory update in the terminal. I've tried both an alias and function to get this to work, but without success:

### meteor is the command that starts the server
alias ta='cd /Users/scotty/Develop/Meteor/task-assist && meteor'

### Also tried a function
  cd /Users/scotty/Develop/Meteor/task-assist

It's almost as if changing the directory and running meteor need to be two separate commands in order for new terminal tabs to open with that current working directory. And just to reiterate and further clarify, when I'm in the terminal and run $ta and then press cmd + t to open a new tab, I would like the new tabs current directory to be: /Users/scotty/Develop/Meteor/task-assist.

Any ideas on how I can make this happen with an alias?

  • It works here (Ubuntu 14.04, zsh, gnome-terminal) with alias do='cd /tmp && sleep 1000'. But I remember I needed to put . /etc/profile.d/vte.sh in my .zshrc to have the auto-cd of new tabs working in all the cases --- I don't know if this could help your case.
    – Rmano
    Sep 17 '14 at 15:10
  • 1
    What terminal emulator do you use? This is related to the way the terminal emulator figures out that the shell has changed to a different directory. Normally changing the shell's directory has no influence on the terminal emulator. Sep 17 '14 at 20:56
  • I'm just using the standard mac terminal.
    – Scott
    Sep 20 '14 at 11:22
  • I made a small program to do mostly what your talking about: riro - Alias your current directory to jump back fast github.com/eoinmurray/riro Jul 22 '16 at 9:34

You have to go another way. Add a line at the end of your .bashrc that changes directory in the last directory the previous bash instance had as CWD (current working directory).

A line like this worked for me:

cd $(readlink  "/proc/$(echo -n $(ps -u $(whoami) -eo stat,pid,cmd | awk '$3 == "'$(which bash)'" && $1 ~ /\+/{print $2}' | sort | head -1))/cwd")


  • cd $(...): changes directory to whatever is determined below
  • readlink /proc/$(...)/cwd: reads the link where /proc/pid/cwd points to (current working directory)
  • echo -n $(...): removes the trailing newline
  • ps -u $(whoami) -eo stat,pid,cmd: shows my process in a simple format
  • awk '$3 == "'$(which bash)'" && $1 ~ /\+/{print $2}' if it's a bash and bash is in the foreground process group (indicated by the + in the stat field), then print the pid
  • sort | head -1 we want only the lowest pid


In your case this might be a better solution:

cd $(readlink /proc/$(pgrep -n meteor)/cwd)

It determines the pid of the newest instance of meteor and changes to this current working directory.


I've just created these aliases (I'm using bash)

christian@fujiu1404:~$ alias ta='cd tmp ; date'
christian@fujiu1404:~$ ta
Wed Sep 17 14:47:16 BST 2014
christian@fujiu1404:~/tmp$ alias ta='cd tmp && date'
christian@fujiu1404:~/tmp$ cd ..
christian@fujiu1404:~$ ta
Wed Sep 17 14:48:28 BST 2014

and they work!

  • My alias work also, but for some reason when my alias starts the server, and the server is running, it prevents the change to the current working directory in the terminal.
    – Scott
    Sep 17 '14 at 13:54
  • Hmmn, I'm using Gnome Terminal 3.6.2 and it works! Does meteor change directory ?
    – X Tian
    Sep 17 '14 at 14:03
  • Yeah, it changes into the directory and starts the server, but the directory just change in the terminal if that makes sense.
    – Scott
    Sep 17 '14 at 14:09

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