I'd like to keep my modifications to as few files as possible, so I don't want to touch .inputrc unless I absolutely have to. So, given .inputrc lines like:

"\e[5~": history-search-backward
"\e[6~": history-search-forward

How can I apply them only using bash?

This SU post indicated that bind could read from .inputrc, and bind's help says:

$ help bind
bind: bind [-lpsvPSVX] [-m keymap] [-f filename] [-q name] [-u name] [-r keyseq] [-x keyseq:shell-command] [keyseq:readline-function or readline-command]

history-search-* look like readline functions, so I tried:

bind "\e[6~":history-search-forward
bind "\e[5~":history-search-backward

Page Up now triggers a bell, Page Down printed a ~.

Is there a general way for me to use inputrc lines in bash?

  • 2
    One reason to use .inputrc here, though, is so that the key bindings are available in any program that uses readline, not just bash.
    – chepner
    Sep 25, 2015 at 13:43

2 Answers 2


According to what I have in my .bashrc you need something like

bind '"\e[6~": history-search-forward'
  • ... and now I feel like an idiot. I stopped trying after bind '\e[6~': history-search-forward failed.
    – muru
    Sep 24, 2015 at 6:21
  • 1
    I think I had trouble getting there too, as I noted it as non-obvious in my personal "help on bash" file.
    – meuh
    Sep 24, 2015 at 6:27

For anyone else searching, this works for all inputrc commands: just wrap them in quotes, shove a bind in front, and you're good (make sure you have different types of quotes if the actual inputrc command itself requires quotes).

For example, an inputrc could have

# makes tab-completion *immediately* return multiple options, 
set show-all-if-ambiguous on
# bind C-d to go forword, not crush the shell
"\C-d": shell-forward-word

To put those in your bashrc, it's just

bind "set show-all-if-ambiguous on"
bind '"\C-d": shell-forward-word'

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