I notice some sample bash for loops are spread out over multiple lines in examples

for VARIABLE in file1 file2 file3
    command1 on $VARIABLE

(eg here http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/bash-for-loop/) How do I enter a newline in the bash terminal (I use putty) ? When I press enter at the end of a line the system executes it.

  • 1
    Also in bash you can use the keyboard combination Ctrl + x + e to open the contents of the command prompt in a editor such as vim where you can work on it more easily, when you're done you can exit the editor and the command will run. – slm Jun 27 '13 at 0:22
  • Related answer: unix.stackexchange.com/questions/232912/… – Kusalananda Feb 15 '17 at 17:19

When you press Enter at the end of:

for VARIABLE in file1 file2 file3

The shell can't execute anything since that for loop is not finished. So instead, it will print a different prompt, the $PS2 prompt (generally >), until you enter the closing done.

However, after > is displayed, you can't go back to edit the first line.

Alternatively, instead of typing Enter, you can type Ctrl-VCtrl-J. That way, the newline character (aka ^J) is entered without the current buffer being accepted, and you can then go back to editing the first line later on.

In zsh, you can press Alt-Enter or EscEnter to insert a newline character without accepting the current buffer. To get the same behavior in bash, you can add to your ~/.inputrc:

"\e\C-m": "\026\n"

(\026 being the ^V character).

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