Is there a more compact form of killing background jobs than:

for i in {1..5}; do kill %$i; done

Also, {1..5} obviously has a hard-coded magic number in it, how can I make it "N" with N being the right number, without doing a:

$(jobs | wc -l)

I actually use \j in PS1 to get the # of managed jobs, is this equivalent?

  • 3
    kill $(jobs -p) seems easier. – jw013 Jul 19 '12 at 22:00
  • I would prefer to kill jobs individually, if possible. (I might have misunderstood your comment, though) – Robottinosino Jul 19 '12 at 22:12
  • for pid in $(jobs -p); do kill $pid; done? – jw013 Jul 19 '12 at 22:27
  • 2
    @jw013 It's not only easier, it's actually correct (please post it as an answer), unlike a solution based on counting the lines of the output of jobs which only works if the jobs happen to be numbered consecutively. Oh, and “kill jobs individually” is meaningless: passing multiple PIDs to the kill command does exactly the same thing as passing them separately. – Gilles Jul 19 '12 at 23:52
  • I was entering the command incorrectly, kill $(jobs -p) words and looks very correct to me too. Ready to accept. – Robottinosino Jul 20 '12 at 0:31

To just kill all background jobs managed by bash, do

kill $(jobs -p)

Note that since both jobs and kill are built into bash, you shouldn't run into any errors of the Argument list too long type.

  • 1
    Also for posterity, what bahamat thinks is the way to do it in zsh disqualifies them as any authority on the topic. – peth Mar 8 '13 at 23:46
  • I feel like I should know this, but how does the '$' work here? – fersarr Jan 8 '15 at 17:21
  • 1
    @fersarr Here you go – jw013 Jan 8 '15 at 21:27
  • @bahamat That doesn't actually work since the PID may be in field 2 or 3 depending on whether the job is one of %+ or %- or not. What works is kill %${(k)^jobdirs}, which is indeed longer; if you need to list the PIDs then you can use the even longer ${${jobstates#*:*:}%%=*}. – Gilles Jan 28 '16 at 10:06
  • On CentOS, my prompt is waiting for more input > – Janac Meena Nov 13 '18 at 19:18

Use xargs instead of the $(jobs -p) subcommand, because if jobs -p is empty then the kill command will fail.

jobs -p | xargs kill
  • 1
    This has the same exact effect though , it prints the help and exits with code 123 – cat Jun 7 '17 at 20:51
  • 1
    The the command works fine on OSX but doesn't work on Debian – brunocascio Jun 8 '17 at 12:23
  • This works great on CentOS 6 – Janac Meena Nov 13 '18 at 19:19
  • jobs -p | xargs -rn10 kill will do better better if jobs -p does not return any PIDs. Note that -r option is GNU extension. – NarūnasK Feb 1 at 16:27

I prefer to check if there's any jobs that exist before killing them - this way the script won't fail if there's nothing running.

It's also shorter to type. Throw this in your .bash_profile:

function killjobs () {
    JOBS="$(jobs -p)";
    if [ -n "${JOBS}" ]; then;
        kill -KILL ${JOBS};

Then run:


To kill any jobs running.

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