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January 14, 2007

View and Change bash history

Update: Fixed a typo.
Update: Added grep search.

Always wanted to know what you have been doing via bash? Did you know bash keeps a history of that? Here is a quick way to check it and an easy way to change the history limit.

First open up a terminal by going to Applications > Accessories > Terminal (in Ubuntu) or press Alt + F2 and type in terminal. Now that you have a terminal open, let’s get down to viewing your history.

To view your history via the terminal, type:

history

This will show the whole list.

To view your history in a editor (to save for later), just type:

history -w ~/history.txt
vim ~/history.txt

What history -w ~/history.txt does is save the history to a file named history.txt on your home folder (cd ~/). The next command opens up the file for viewing in vim.

Note: For more information about history be sure to use the man pages by doing:

man history

Now to change your bash history length, just open up your .bashrc by doing so:

vim ~/.bashrc

Once open, at the top add.

export HISTFILESIZE=3000

As you can see, the limit can be changed.

Bash keeps it’s own history in a file. You can view that file as stated before, or by opening ~/.bash_history

You can search through your bash_history by piping your history file into grep like so:

history | grep "search term here"

Example:

history | grep "wget"