I understand that command line history in the case of bash is saved in .bash_history.

When you open a terminal emulator window in Ubuntu/MacOS and work in it, the history is not saved in .bash_history yet but when you close the window, the history of the session will be appended to the end of the .bash_history file.

My question is: where are the history saved during the session, before I close the emulator window?

The reason I care is that sometimes I mess up wile working in it and the terminal window simply freeze. When I force close it, I lose all the history contained in the session. I want to be able to retrieve them.

  • @mosvy, not on MacOS. It's more complicated there. See unix.stackexchange.com/q/473581/135943
    – Wildcard
    Dec 4, 2019 at 23:10
  • So, what's the value of PROMPT_COMMAND in bash on MacOS? I guess they may be already calling history -a from it, in which case the OP can retrieve the history of recently crashed sessions from ls -t ~/.bash_sessions/ | head?
    – user313992
    Dec 4, 2019 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


You could try one of the suggestions here, addition to your .bashrc is immediate, although there are some disadvantages.

I added the following to ~.bashrc and have experienced no real issues

shopt -s histappend

export PROMPT_COMMAND="history -a; history -c; history -r; $PROMPT_COMMAND"

Whether this works in MacOS or not I don't know

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