Say I do the following:

cd /some/path
ln -s /target/path symbolic_name

If then do:

cd /some/path
cd symbolic_name

I get:


and not:


Is there a way to have the shell "fully resolve" a symbolic link (i.e. updating CWD, etc.), as if I had directly done:

cd /target/path


I need to run some programs that seem to be "aware" or "sensitive" about how I get to my target path, and I would like them to think that I arrived to the target path as if had done cd /target/path directly.

  • 9
    Related to this question. You can do pwd -P or alias pwd='pwd -P' also cd -P to go to the physical path instead of the symlink.
    – lmcanavals
    Feb 3, 2013 at 22:25
  • @MartínCanaval Thanks; that's what I was looking for!
    – Ryan
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


Your shell has a builtin pwd, which tries to be "smart". After you did a cd to a symlink the internal pwd fakes the output as if you moved to a real directory.

Pass the -P option to pwd, i.e. run pwd -P. The -P option (for “physical”) tells pwd not to do any symbolic link tracking and display the “real” path to the directory.

Alternatively, there should also be a real binary pwd, which does not do (and is even not able to do) this kind of magic. Just use that binary explicity:

$ type -a pwd
pwd is a shell builtin
pwd is /bin/pwd
$ mkdir a
$ ln -s a b
$ cd b
$ pwd
$ /bin/pwd

Try cd -P <symlink_dirname>.

tim@ls:~$ mkdir a
tim@ls:~$ ln -s a b

tim@ls:~$ cd b
tim@ls:~/b$ pwd

tim@ls:~/b$ cd ..
tim@ls:~$ cd -P b
tim@ls:~/a$ pwd

You can also use set -o physical to make this behavior persist through the lifetime of the running shell.

Check out https://stackoverflow.com/questions/10456784/behavior-of-cd-bash-on-symbolic-links for some more good info.

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