Obviously I know about pwd and readlink, but is there a command to find out the real absolute path to the current directory (ie, resolving links and dots)?

  • Whats up with readlink ?
    – 123
    May 27, 2016 at 13:55
  • @123 Resolving links is sort of the point of the question
    – Jonathan H
    May 27, 2016 at 13:57

3 Answers 3

pwd -P

(in any POSIX shell), is the command you're looking for.

-P is for physical (as opposed to logical (-L, the default) where pwd mostly dumps the content of $PWD (which the shell maintains based on the arguments you give to cd or pushd)).

$ ln -s . /tmp/here
$ cd /tmp/here/here
$ cd ../here/here
$ pwd
$ pwd -P


$ env pwd


$ /bin/pwd

Unless the variable POSIXLY_CORRECT is set, in which case you need to add -P.

The details:

The shell has a builtin called pwd which defaults to printing the value of shell's $PWD. In doing so, it may include logical paths (a default -L).

If you call the builtin with (-P) or use the external /bin/pwd:

$ ln -s . /tmp/here; cd /tmp/here/here/here

$ pwd

$ pwd -P

$ /bin/pwd 

The reason is that the external /bin/pwd defaults to the -P option.
From info pwd:

this implementation uses -P' as the default unless thePOSIXLY_CORRECT' environment variable is set.


Using Python also works:

python -c "import os; print(os.path.realpath('.'))"
  • Seems a little heavyweight to me to start a Python interpreter just to get the current path...
    – user
    May 27, 2016 at 14:01
  • @MichaelKjörling :) Hence the question, but it turns out that RTFM was the answer to my question.. sorry about this!
    – Jonathan H
    May 27, 2016 at 14:03
  • 1
    getcwd() from any language should work, no need to resort to realpath. The shell's interface to getcwd() is the pwd command, but by default, shells replace getcwd with a fancy version that tries to give some information on how you got there, hence the need for -P there. Other languages don't have that problem, so you can use their getcwd() there like os.getcwd() for python. May 27, 2016 at 14:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .