How can I display the directory before the $ in my prompt? enter image description here


2 Answers 2


The bash man page has a list of the escape sequences that you can put in a prompt so that the shell will expand them. Look under "Prompting" and you'll find this table:

          \a     an ASCII bell character (07)
          \d     the date in "Weekday Month Date" format (e.g., "Tue May 26")
                 the  format is passed to strftime(3) and the result is inserted into the
                 prompt string; an empty format results in a locale-specific time  repre‐
                 sentation.  The braces are required
          \e     an ASCII escape character (033)
          \h     the hostname up to the first `.'
          \H     the hostname
          \j     the number of jobs currently managed by the shell
          \l     the basename of the shell's terminal device name
          \n     newline
          \r     carriage return
          \s     the  name  of  the  shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following the
                 final slash)
          \t     the current time in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format
          \T     the current time in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format
          \@     the current time in 12-hour am/pm format
          \A     the current time in 24-hour HH:MM format
          \u     the username of the current user
          \v     the version of bash (e.g., 2.00)
          \V     the release of bash, version + patch level (e.g., 2.00.0)
          \w     the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde (uses
                 the value of the PROMPT_DIRTRIM variable)
          \W     the  basename  of  the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated
                 with a tilde
          \!     the history number of this command
          \#     the command number of this command
          \$     if the effective UID is 0, a #, otherwise a $
          \nnn   the character corresponding to the octal number nnn
          \\     a backslash
          \[     begin a sequence of non-printing characters,  which  could  be  used  to
                 embed a terminal control sequence into the prompt
          \]     end a sequence of non-printing characters

The one you want is \w, so just do

PS1="\w $ "

That will change it for the current shell. You can put the definition in your .profile to make it stick.

  • Take a look at /etc/bash.bashrc (or wherever your distro stores the default configuration for your shell) and search for variable PS1. It can show you some default definitions. For example in RHEL-7 I have default export PS1="${_t}${_u}:\w${_p} ". Add this to your ~/.bashrc.
    – mcepl
    Jun 7, 2018 at 8:31
  • Yeah, you have to "man bash" and search on PS1 "/PS1"
    – Mr.Black
    Oct 14, 2021 at 13:14

All methods of doing this are non-standard, so be careful and only set things up for a single shell.

In general, there are two methods to implement the desired behavior:

Using escape sequences

This method has been described for bash by user Nick. It depends on bash extensions. The standard only requires that PS1 should be subject to parameter expansion (which is shell variable expansion) and that the shell should expand '!' by the history command number (note that the standard does not describe "\!" but a single exclamation mark.

Using command substitution

This method is usually used by ksh users but it is intentionally not part of the standard since it is a security risk. The standard does not require the shell to ignore an imported PS1 environment and so this environment could contain attacking commands from a bad guy.

Future versions of the standard will most likely standardize command substitution for PS1 but then either require the shell to ignore an imported PS1 environment or to switch on command substitution for the shell and setting the command after this has been turned on in order to work.

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