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41.5.1 Shell History Ring


Fetch the next earlier old shell command.


Fetch the next later old shell command.

M-r regexp <RET>
M-s regexp <RET>

Search backwards or forwards for old shell commands that match regexp.

C-c C-x

Fetch the next subsequent command from the history.

C-c .

Fetch one argument from an old shell command.

C-c C-l

Display the buffer's history of shell commands in another window (comint-dynamic-list-input-ring).

Shell buffers provide a history of previously entered shell commands. To reuse shell commands from the history, use the editing commands M-p, M-n, M-r and M-s. These work just like the minibuffer history commands except that they operate on the text at the end of the shell buffer, where you would normally insert text to send to the shell.

M-p fetches an earlier shell command to the end of the shell buffer. Successive use of M-p fetches successively earlier shell commands, each replacing any text that was already present as potential shell input. M-n does likewise except that it finds successively more recent shell commands from the buffer. C-<UP> works like M-p, and C-<DOWN> like M-n.

The history search commands M-r and M-s read a regular expression and search through the history for a matching command. Aside from the choice of which command to fetch, they work just like M-p and M-n. If you enter an empty regexp, these commands reuse the same regexp used last time.

When you find the previous input you want, you can resubmit it by typing <RET>, or you can edit it first and then resubmit it if you wish. Any partial input you were composing before navigating the history list is restored when you go to the beginning or end of the history ring.

Often it is useful to reexecute several successive shell commands that were previously executed in sequence. To do this, first find and reexecute the first command of the sequence. Then type C-c C-x; that will fetch the following command—the one that follows the command you just repeated. Then type <RET> to reexecute this command. You can reexecute several successive commands by typing C-c C-x <RET> over and over.

The command C-c . (comint-input-previous-argument) copies an individual argument from a previous command, like ESC . in Bash. The simplest use copies the last argument from the previous shell command. With a prefix argument n, it copies the nth argument instead. Repeating C-c . copies from an earlier shell command instead, always using the same value of n (don't give a prefix argument when you repeat the C-c . command).

These commands get the text of previous shell commands from a special history list, not from the shell buffer itself. Thus, editing the shell buffer, or even killing large parts of it, does not affect the history that these commands access.

Some shells store their command histories in files so that you can refer to commands from previous shell sessions. Emacs reads the command history file for your chosen shell, to initialize its own command history. The file name is ‘~/.bash_history’ for bash, ‘~/.sh_history’ for ksh, and ‘~/.history’ for other shells.

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