alias is a command to create shortcut to commands and applications in the terminal.

$ alias l="ls"
$ l
Documents  Downloads  Music     Public     Videos
Desktop    Pictures   Templates

Useful Options / Examples


Things to note: when using alias, make sure that there is no space around the equal sign.

$ alias s = "status"
bash: alias: s: not found
bash: alias: =: not found
bash: alias: status: not found

Another thing to note is that aliases would overwrite existing commands. For example:

$ alias ls="git status"
$ ls
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.

Also, aliases are temporary to the current shell. To make the aliases permanent, please refer to the section below “Making aliases permanent”.


The above examples do not make much sense, since they simplify a two character command. The following examples show how alias can save you a lot of time.

$ alias s="git status"
$ s
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.

This shows that you can alias commands with multiple words.


$ alias gdesk="cd ~/Desktop"
$ gdesk
$ pwd

One thing to be careful about is if you alias the cd command without using the ~, your alias might not always work. For example:

$ alias gdesk="cd Desktop"
$ gdesk
bash: cd: Desktop: No such file or directory

Making aliases permanent

If you just run the alias command from the shell, it would last for the duration of the shell (until the shell is closed). To make the aliases permanent, we can just tell the shell to run these commands when the shell starts.


For people who are relatively new to this, we can do this easily.

$ cat >> ~/.bashrc
alias gits="git status"
(press control-D here)
$ cat ~/.bashrc
alias gits="git status"
$ source ~/.bashrc

The last line just tells the shell to source the file in the current session. The bashrc file is automatically sourced whenever the shell starts. Now, whenever you open a new shell, your aliases are ready for you.

More complicated

For people who know how to work with .rc files (.bashrc), the best way to create permanent aliases is to create a .aliases file and then source it in your .rc file. For example, you should have this in your bashrc:

if [ -f ~/.aliases ]; then
    . ~/.aliases

This would source your .aliases file if it exists. And in your .aliases file you should just write all your aliases. Like this:

1 alias gits="git status"
2 alias l="ls"
3 alias gdesk="cd ~/Desktop"

This is a better way because your aliases is now in a separate file and you can view all of them together, without any other code.