234

I'm working in Mac OSX, so I guess I'm using bash...?

Sometimes I enter something that I don't want to be remembered in the history. How do I remove it?

11 Answers 11

399

Preventative measures

If you want to run a command without saving it in history, prepend it with an extra space

prompt$ echo saved
prompt$  echo not saved \
> #     ^ extra space

For this to work you need either ignorespace or ignoreboth in HISTCONTROL. For example, run

HISTCONTROL=ignorespace

To make this setting persistent, put it in your .bashrc.

Post-mortem clean-up

If you've already run the command, and want to remove it from history, first use

history

to display the list of commands in your history. Find the number next to the one you want to delete (e.g. 1234) and run

history -d 1234

Additionally, if the line you want to delete has already been written to your $HISTFILE (which typically happens when you end a session by default), you will need to write back to $HISTFILE, or the line will reappear when you open a new session:

history -w
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  • It worked. I think we need to source ~/.bashrc after modifying it... – B Seven Sep 26 '12 at 18:00
  • @BSeven Yes, all bash settings are stored in RAM while the shell is running. The rc files are only for storing persistent settings for the next time the shell starts. – jw013 Sep 26 '12 at 18:03
  • There are edge cases when this will not work, but under default configurations it should. – jordanm Sep 26 '12 at 19:27
  • @jordanm What edge cases are you talking about? Are they worth listing here? – jw013 Oct 22 '12 at 2:54
  • 3
    @jw013 I set PROMPT_COMMAND to history -a, in that case it is already written to the history file, rather than on exit under normal configuration. Specifically: mywiki.wooledge.org/BashFAQ/088 – jordanm Oct 22 '12 at 3:54
59
  1. To clear all your history, use

    history -c
    
  2. To delete a single line, use

    history -d linenumber
    
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9

I have this in my ~/.bashrc, which makes the command $ forget delete the previous command from history

function forget() {                                                              
   history -d $(expr $(history | tail -n 1 | grep -oP '^ \d+') - 1);              
}
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  • That seems a little complicated. Wouldn't history -d $( history | tail -n 1 | cut -f 1 -d " " ) be simpler? – seumasmac Oct 3 '15 at 1:40
  • 1
    history | tail -n1 is the history command itself, so deleting that number gets the wrong entry. However, history -d $( history | awk 'END{print $1-1}' ) combines the line select, field select, and subtraction. – dave_thompson_085 Oct 3 '15 at 3:03
  • Any chance someone could help out with portin this to zshell? – Alex S Oct 14 '15 at 13:27
5

You always can edit and remove entries from ~/.bash_history, useful when you want to remove either one entry or more than one entry

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  • 2
    Most likely these entries will be reintroduced when you exit the shell. – l0b0 Jul 17 '18 at 2:56
  • This may needlessly remove more than necessary, or may possibly not remove anything, depending on how the shell is configured. – Kusalananda Apr 2 at 8:03
5

If you want to forget the entire bash session, you can kill the current bash process. Since the variable $$ hold the pid of the current shell, you can do:

kill -9 $$
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  • This does not take the history that is written to $HISTFILE into account. – Kusalananda Apr 2 at 8:02
  • @Kusalananda unless you have taken special steps to write to the $HISTFILE immediately, this should work. The ONLY think I have taken into account is the $HISTFILE. What experience have you had (with my proposal) that causes you concern? – Bruno Bronosky Apr 13 at 15:39
  • If the thing that the user entered was in a previous session, killing the current shell would not remove that single thing from the history file. Also, I'm on systems where the admins have changed the default setup so that commands are written to the history file after every given command. We know nothing about the current user's setup. – Kusalananda Apr 13 at 15:41
  • @Kusalananda your statement is true. However, I would hope that no one would ever try to kill the current process trying to affect the result of a past completed process. That's just illogical to expect. But it does suggest a slightly different phrasing to your original comment that would have avoided the confusion. "This does not affect the history that was written to $HISTFILE in previous sessions." In other words, "this concept is only good for preventing the situation, not correcting it." Thanks for clarifying, friend. – Bruno Bronosky Apr 13 at 15:48
  • Well, it wouldn't affect the history written to $HISTFILE in the current session either, so I really don't see how that comment could be misinterpreted. The only thing you have to add to your answer is the assumptions under which the given solution solves the problem. There is really only one assumption, namely that the command that should be removed from the history hasn't yet been written to $HISTFILE. Then you may want to elaborate under what conditions the command would have been written to $HISTFILE. – Kusalananda Apr 13 at 15:53
0

You need to write the changes after you cleared the history. And if you wouldn't like to have the history wipe command in your history then you need to run the command like that:

history -c && history -w && logout

Good luck.

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0

To remove a single line from the history file, use the -d option. For example, if you want to clear a command where you entered the clear-text password as in the scenario above, find the line number in the history file and run this command.

$ history -d 2038

To delete or clear all the entries from bash history, use the history command below with the -c option.

$ history -c

Alternatively, you can use the command below to delete the history of all last executed commands permanently in the file.

$ cat /dev/null > ~/.bash_history

Also With Bash 5, you can delete a range aswell

history -d 511-520

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  • 1
    history -d line number didnt work for me. I'm using mac. – inquisitive Jan 27 at 10:13
  • You need to brew cask install jumpcut or else follow this – champion-runner Jan 27 at 10:51
0

1- in bash terminal type

history # This will list all commands in history .bash_history file with line numbers

ex:

  ...
  987  cd
  988  ssh x@127.0.0.1
  990  exit
  991  cd

2- pick the CMD line number you want to delete

history -d 988

Note: if you want to delete for example last 3 CMDs, just pick the third line number from bottom ex: 988 and repeat the CMD history -d 988 3 times in sequence.

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  • Welcome on U&L! This really looks similar to (a part of) the accepted answer (except for the suggestion about deleting consecutive commands). Is there anything you can add to make it less of a repetition? – fra-san Mar 16 at 10:41
  • Sorry, no and for the first look I didn't understand the accepted answer [and you won't believe that I checked other answers with more details explained] so when I figured out that history command lists the used commands I just wanted to explain that! – KhogaEslam Mar 16 at 12:26
  • 1
    No problem. Answers that happen to be duplicates of other answers may eventually be deleted and I just try to make sure people have room to deal with that possibility before it happens ;-) – fra-san Mar 16 at 17:47
0

Quick steps:

  1. Find out where is your terminal's history file with echo $HISTFILE
  2. Open the file with your text editor
  3. Delete the sensitive lines you find there
  4. Save the file
  5. Close and reopen your terminal
  6. DONE: your history is clean! You can validate that by running the history command in your terminal
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0

In Ubuntu (but I'm pretty sure, it will be work for other Linux distributions and also MacOS the same way) the bash history file can be simply edited in an arbitrary text editor:

$ nano ~/.bash_history

If you don't know, where it's stored, you can find it as follows:

$ echo $HISTFILE

Or you can just do it a bit more generic way:

$ nano $HISTFILE
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  • This does not take into account that the current in-memory history of the shell would be written to the file when the shell exits. This would not delete a command from the history that is resident in the in-memory history of the shell. – Kusalananda Apr 2 at 8:05
-1

If you want to delete a range of history lines, you can use the script below.

This example will delete history output from line 1 to line 150.

for i in `history | awk 'NR > 1 && NR <=150{print   $1}'`; do history -d $i; done
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