What command(s) can one use to find out the current working directory (CWD) of a running process? These would be commands you could use externally from the process.


There are 3 methods that I'm aware of:


$ pwdx <PID>


$ lsof -p <PID> | grep cwd


$ readlink -e /proc/<PID>/cwd


Say we have this process.

$ pgrep nautilus

Then if we use pwdx:

$ pwdx 12136
12136: /home/saml

Or you can use lsof:

$ lsof -p 12136 | grep cwd
nautilus 12136 saml  cwd    DIR              253,2    32768  10354689 /home/saml

Or you can poke directly into the /proc:

$ readlink -e /proc/12136/cwd/

I assume that you have the process ID in pid. Most methods on most systems will require that the shell you're doing this from is running as the same user as the target process (or root).

On Linux and Solaris and perhaps some other System V unices:

cd /proc/$pid/cwd && pwd

On Linux (except embedded systems where readlink is not available) but not Solaris:

readlink /proc/$pid/cwd

On just about any unix variant, you can use lsof. Beware that if there is a newline, it will be printed as \n (indistinguishable from backslash followed by n). If you feel lucky, you can use the second form, which silently chokes on all whitespace in the directory name.

lsof -a -Fn -p $pid -d cwd | sed -e '1d' -e '2s/^n/'
lsof -p $pid | awk '$4=="cwd" {print $9}'

Bonus: if you need to cause a process to change its current directory, you can do it with a debugger. This is useful for example to move a long-running program that doesn't care about its current directory out of a directory that you want to remove. Not all programs appreciate having their current directory changed under their feet — for example a shell is likely to crash.


# Use gdb to change the working directory of a process from outside.
# This could be generalized to a lot of other things.

if [ $# -ne 2 ]; then
  echo 1>&2 "Usage: $0 PID DIR"
  exit 120
case "$1" in
  *[!0-9]*) echo 1>&2 "Invalid pid \`$1'"; exit 3;;
case "$2" in
    echo 1>&2 "Unsupported character in directory name, sorry."
    exit 3;;

gdb -n -pid "$1" -batch -x /dev/stdin <<EOF
call chdir("$2")
  • Nice touch adding the details in about moving. Good little nugget to add to the site! – slm Oct 10 '13 at 0:56
  • Can you comment at all on the ubiquity of pwdx on other Unixes? – slm Oct 10 '13 at 1:00
  • On OpenBSD, at least, lsof only reports the mount point of the process's CWD. – kurtm Oct 10 '13 at 1:11
  • @slm pwdx is present on Solaris since the 20th century, Linux since the mid-2000s (imitating Solaris, says the man page). Not present on any other unix AFAIK. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Oct 10 '13 at 1:12
  • @kurtm - any better method on BSD? Also is pwdx there? – slm Oct 10 '13 at 1:17

If your system has /proc, you can always do:

readlink -e /proc/$$/cwd

If you want to find out the CWD from a different process than the one you're interested in, you obviously need to replace $$ with the PID of your process of interest.


For macOS: If you know the PID and want to get the exact file/directory (no other information) use:

lsof -a -p 1234 -d cwd -F n | tail -1 | cut -c2-

-a: Tell lsof to join using AND instead of OR for the -p and -d options below
-p: pass in process id (pid) 1234
-d: only include the file descriptor, cwd
-F: Specify the fields to output (choose from the list of characters here)

The n character passed to -F option outputs 3 things separated by newlines. We only want the last one (the current working directory). We pipe the output into tail to get the last line then pipe it into cut to trim the first character.


Based @Gilles answer..

if you know PID of your process.. for Mac OSX and Linux use:

lsof -p PID | awk '$4=="cwd" {print $9}'

to get working dir of process..

  • lsof: WARNING: can't stat() tracefs file system /sys/kernel/debug/tracing Output information may be incomplete. Anyone else get this? – Sridhar Sarnobat Apr 26 '20 at 5:42

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