Within my ~./bashrc in an alias I have turned of globbing like this.

alias x='set -f;. any.sh'

But which command enables globbing again or should I set this options in any.sh?

Any response is welcome.

  • maybe set -f && any.sh && set +f ...? Aug 27, 2017 at 19:31
  • @GeorgeVasiliou Actually I wrote to the end of any.sh the command set +f and it works. Are there different issues in your or my approach?
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 19:36
  • Same result , different approach. In my approach commands are chained by && which means that the exit code of previous command must be "success" = "0" for the next command to run. By your approach set +f can be present anywhere in your script. You can re-enable globbing at will , even if the any.sh script will finally "fail". Aug 27, 2017 at 19:39
  • 1
    @JohnGoofy: Please edit your question to motivate it. Why do you want to disable globbing? Can't you use something different than a Posix shell (e.g. Python, Awk, scsh, ....) ? Aug 27, 2017 at 19:43
  • @GeorgeVasiliou I figured out, that your approach won't work for me. I left my alias as posted and added set +f to the end of any.sh.
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 19:44

4 Answers 4


If you want globs to be disabled only while the shell is interpreting code in any.sh, with bash4.4+ or ash-based shells, you can do:

x() {
  local -
  set -o noglob
  . any.sh

Or in zsh:

x() {
  set -o localoptions -o noglob
  . any.sh

That is use a function instead of an alias (you don't want to use aliases for several commands as that doesn't do what you want when you do cmd | x or cmd && x for instance), make sure changes to options (to the $- variable as one way to look at it) are local to the function, disable glob and source the file.

With older versions of bash, you could do:

x() {
  local ret restore
  [[ $- = *f* ]] || restore='set +o noglob'
  set -o noglob
  . any.sh
  eval "$restore"
  return "$ret"

Or maybe a more generic helper function like:

withopt() {
  local ret option
  local -a restore
  option=$1; shift
  [[ -o $option ]] || restore=(set +o "$option")

  set -o "$option"
  return "$ret"

And then, you can use an alias if you like like:

alias x='withopt noglob . any.sh'

Note that it doesn't prevent * from being expanded if you do:

x *

As the noglob option ends up being enabled long after that command has been evaluated. For that, see my other answer (an answer to a different question).

  • Dear fellow. I already have an easy and short solution. I prepend set -f to my alias and I put set +f to my script and It works. Are there some issues to use your approach? If not, I don't know if I should close, delete or answer my self this question.
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 20:22
  • 3
    @JohnGoofy, why don't you add set -f to your script if it's your script that need glob disabled? I'm not sure I understand your use case. Aug 27, 2017 at 20:24
  • I wrote a little file manager for the CLI. Because there are wildcards I need both, globbing and not globbing within one task and of course after executing the script I want globbing again.
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 20:29
  • 1
    @JohnGoofy: Normally you should just write your script to quote anything that you don't want glob-expansion to act on. e.g. "$foo" instead of $foo Aug 28, 2017 at 1:10
  • 1
    @Sergio, there, you only need to quote that * shell wildcard operator: find . -name '*.cpp' Or find . -name '[*].cpp' if you want to find a file called literally *.cpp. Aug 25, 2018 at 21:38

This was posted before the question was clarified, and now addresses a different need. I'm still leaving it here as that can be useful to others.

I suppose you want to be able to do:

x *.txt

and the *.txt to be passed unexpanded to any.sh and globs to be reenabled afterwards.

You can't do that with bash. Use zsh instead where you can do:

alias x='noglob any.sh`

Where noglob disables aliases only for that command.

$ echo /etc/p*d
/etc/pam.d /etc/passwd /etc/profile.d
$ noglob echo /etc/p*d

Note that it affects the expansion of globs in arguments of that echo commands only. * would still be expanded in noglob echo $(echo *) or noglob eval 'echo *' or noglob . some-script where some-script does a echo *.

Actually, there may be a way with bash:

oneshot_noglob() {
  case $- in
    (*f*) ;; # globs already disabled
    (*) set -f; shot=0; debug_trap=$(trap -p DEBUG)
        trap '
          if ((++shot == 2)); then
            set +f
            trap - DEBUG
          fi' DEBUG;;

alias x='oneshot_noglob; any.sh'

Which uses the DEBUG trap to restore set +f after one command has been executed after the set -f.

Now, with all aliases that contain more than one command, that has a few caveats.

echo foo | x


echo foo | oneshort_noglob; any.sh

So the output of echo is only fed to oneshort_noglob.

Same for things like:

cmd && x

Where any.sh would be executed regardless of whether cmd is successful or not.

Also note that it affects all globs in every level of subshell until just before the second command is being executed in the main shell process.

For instance, in x $(echo *; echo *) *, none of those * would be expanded because the DEBUG trap is not inherited unless you set the extdebug option.

  • I have made an edit to my alias. I forgot the source .. I have tried your approach with and without source. However, if my alias looks Iike I have posted and I write to the end of my script set +f I can pass wildcard arguments and my bash is still able for globbing.
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 19:53
  • Thank you very much for your effort. But I have found a solution, just appending set +f to my file and it works.
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 20:05
  • By the way, even without the . in my alias, your approach won't work for me as I mentioned.
    – John Goofy
    Aug 27, 2017 at 20:07
  • @JohnGoofy, as I said, that's to be able to call any.sh * with a litteral argument passed to any.sh as that's the only way I could make sense of your question before you added the .. It doesn't answer your question now that you've clarified it. Aug 27, 2017 at 20:09
  • (f) does not match a word which consists of more than f. You need *f* Aug 27, 2017 at 20:09

One may change something temporarily and then try to return it back to the state it was before. But I propose better, cleaner, more reliable and better maintainable approach: just make needed change local. Bash allows you to easily achieve that by using a subshell (more info here - Grouping Commands).

In your case it can be done like this

alias x='( set -f;. any.sh ; )'
  • @roaima, if OP used . (source) command as an optimization to avoid spawning another shell subprocess then yes, subshell is not an answer. But it is also worth mentioning that this kind of performance degradation can be noticed in cases like calling scripts in a loop or similar. If user start this from command line by issuing explicit command manually then the performance degradation should be neglectible. Taking into account that this is an alias I assumed that OP plans to call it manually. I may be wrong. Jul 19, 2021 at 11:29
  • @roaima and thank you for bringing up concerns. Those are really valid in some cases. And it also turned into some elaboration from my side which I forgot (was lazy) to add initially. Jul 20, 2021 at 18:41
  • (1) I don’t see any comments by roaima, so I don’t know what he said.  But you haven’t edited your answer, so I’ll pick up where he left off.  As far as I’m concerned, the #1 reason for activating a script by sourcing it rather than running it (by fork&exec) is that the script modifies the shell’s environment: changing directory, setting/modifying shell variables and options, establishing/modifying signal traps, changing per-process kernel settings like umask and limits, etc.  Sourcing the script from within an explicit subshell completely precludes any such capability.  … (Cont’d) Aug 29, 2022 at 6:30
  • (Cont’d) …  (2) I have voted to close the question as “Needs detail or clarity” for lack of explanation of what the OP is doing and wants to do.  Lacking such explanation, we should bear in mind that, if you say alias x='cmd₁;cmd₂', and then you say x arg₁ arg₂, it expands as cmd₁;cmd₂ arg₁ arg₂.  With your answer, if the user says x arg₁ arg₂, the arguments do not get passed to any.sh. (3) BTW, you don’t need to have a ; at the end of a list of commands in parentheses.  And it’s traditional to put spaces after semicolons and not before them. Aug 29, 2022 at 6:30

I didn't get glob to work in bash shell script after trying several settings. Instead, I put a glob in my CLI, and that worked as expected.

Since this didn't work:
sh ./test.sh file ls "${1}*.ppm"

Replaced it with:
sh ./test.sh file f*.ppm ls ${2}

Not a direct answer to the question, but a helpful alternative approach for a similar situation.


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