Say I had the following commands typed into Bash during a session:

nano file1.txt
nano file2.txt

I know I can move through these by hitting the up arrow and then hit enter to run the command selected, but if I want to get back to the "nano" commands I have to sc

Is there a key combination where I can start typing the command, then hit some keys, and only commands that begin with what has already been written show up to cycle through?

  • 1
    Oh-my-bash may be useful for you. It has a builtin plugin that does exactly what you want. Install it and it should work out of the box.
    – Parker
    Jul 26, 2022 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


The correct way of searching using what is already on your command line is to move your cursor to the beginning of the line with CTRL + A, call the reverse history with CTRL + R, paste the current line into the search with CTRL + Y, and then using the CTRL + R again to search in reverse.

  • Or if you already know before starting to type the line that that's what you're going to do anyway, simply hit Ctrl-R on the empty line already and go ahead.
    – DonHolgo
    Jul 26, 2022 at 18:32
  • 1
    Thanks! I was hoping it was something a bit simpler like one or two keystrokes but that will do Jul 26, 2022 at 18:40

You can use bang notation


These would, respectively, find and execute the most recent command that begins with the string specified, or contains the string.

You can also append :p to print the command in case you aren't sure, it ends up as the previous command on your history, so just hit up and enter to select it.

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