I have this:

function abash {
    if [[ -v $1 ]]
            atom ~/Shell/$1.sh
            atom ~/.bashrc

in my ~/.bashrc file, so as to make it easier to use Atom to edit my bash scripts, now the problem is that [[ -v $1 ]] is meant to be checking whether the input $1 exists but it does not appear to be, as even when I provide a valid input (e.g., running abash cd where ~/Shell/cd.sh is a file I want to edit) abash opens up ~/.bashrc. How do I fix this problem? Where did I get the idea for the [[ -v $1]] test? This answer.


bash conditional expression -v var check if shell variable named var is set.

When using [[ -v $1 ]], you actually checked whether a variable named by content of $1 was set. In your example, it means $cd, which was never set.

You can simply check if $1 is non-empty string, using -n:

function abash {
    if [[ -n "$1" ]]
            atom ~/Shell/"$1.sh"
            atom ~/.bashrc

Note that var must be a shell variable for -v var work. [[ -v 1 ]] will never work because 1 is denoted for positional parameter.

  • Still isn't working I'm afraid. It still keeps opening up ~/.bashrc when I run abash cd. If you're wondering whether I'm forgetting to source (source ~/.bashrc) it, don't, as I've got another function sbash that does that for me and I keep running it whenever I make changes to my bash scripts. – BH2017 Oct 28 '15 at 5:02
  • @BrentonHorne: What's sbash look like? how did you run it? – cuonglm Oct 28 '15 at 5:05
  • Even with the quotation marks ("") around $1.sh I'm afraid abash cd still keeps opening up ~/.bashrc – BH2017 Oct 28 '15 at 5:07
  • 1
    @cas: You don't need quote in new test [[ ... ]]. – cuonglm Oct 28 '15 at 6:40
  • 1
    ah, that's right. but it doesn't matter. always quote variables unless you are deliberately relying on auto-splitting by $IFS. even when it's not a syntax error, it's a bug waiting to happen. e.g. try passing a single arg like 'two or more words' or 'filename with a space in it' to that function. – cas Oct 28 '15 at 6:44

I'm not sure why this fails, but there are (at least) two other possible options. Instead of [[ -v $1 ]], you could use either of the following.

Check that the number of arguments is more than zero.

[[ $# > 0 ]]

Check that the first argument is not empty.

[[ $1 != '' ]]
  • It's quite unpleasant that UL treats the # here as command start. – Arthur2e5 Oct 28 '15 at 5:15
  • My apologies, I just tested your answer and it is equally valid as cuonglm's, if I could accept both of your answers I would. – BH2017 Oct 28 '15 at 5:17
  • @Arthur2e5 Fixed! :D – Sparhawk Oct 28 '15 at 5:19
  • @BrentonHorne No worries! cuonglm explained why it failed, so on that basis it's a better answer anyway. And he beat me by 5 minutes. ;) – Sparhawk Oct 28 '15 at 5:19
  • Couldn't you use [ $# > 0 ] just as well and have it portable? – Wildcard Oct 28 '15 at 6:53

What needs to be in the test is the name of the var, a tag name, if you wish. To test the variable a, you do not do `[[ -v $a ]], you do:

[[ -v a ]]

However, there is no way (AFAIK) to test positional parameters with -v because, in essence, positional parameters have no name. Or, if you wish, they are numbers, and the test does not work with a number.

So, you need to test the var directly without the help of -v as this:

[[ ${1:+present} ]]


You should quote your var expansions.
I prefer to use $HOME, instead of the tilde. It allows quoted strings.

abash() {
    if [[ ${1:+present} ]]
            atom "$HOME/Shell/$1.sh"
            atom "$HOME/.bashrc"

The answer is similar to this but please take note of the : that I included to make it work correctly.

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