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Using History Interactively

This chapter describes how to use the GNU History Library interactively, from a user's standpoint.

History Interaction

The History library provides a history expansion feature that is similar to the history expansion in Csh. The following text describes the sytax that you use to manipulate the history information.

History expansion takes place in two parts. The first is to determine which line from the previous history should be used during substitution. The second is to select portions of that line for inclusion into the current one. The line selected from the previous history is called the event, and the portions of that line that are acted upon are called words. The line is broken into words in the same fashion that the Bash shell does, so that several English (or Unix) words surrounded by quotes are considered as one word.

Event Designators

An event designator is a reference to a command line entry in the history list.

Start a history subsititution, except when followed by a space, tab, or the end of the line... = or (.

Refer to the previous command. This is a synonym for !-1.

Refer to command line n.

Refer to the command line n lines back.

Refer to the most recent command starting with string.

Refer to the most recent command containing string.

Word Designators

A : separates the event specification from the word designator. It can be omitted if the word designator begins with a ^, $, * or %. Words are numbered from the beginning of the line, with the first word being denoted by a 0 (zero).

0 (zero)
The zero'th word. For many applications, this is the command word.

The n'th word.

The first argument. that is, word 1.

The last argument.

The word matched by the most recent ?string? search.

A range of words; -y Abbreviates 0-y.

All of the words, excepting the zero'th. This is a synonym for 1-$. It is not an error to use * if there is just one word in the event. The empty string is returned in that case.


After the optional word designator, you can add a sequence of one or more of the following modifiers, each preceded by a :.

The entire command line typed so far. This means the current command, not the previous command, so it really isn't a word designator, and doesn't belong in this section.

Remove a trailing pathname component, leaving only the head.

Remove a trailing suffix of the form `.'suffix, leaving the basename.

Remove all but the suffix.

Remove all leading pathname components, leaving the tail.

Print the new command but do not execute it.

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