Pass Command Line Arguments To a Bash Alias Command

Posted on in Categories , , last updated April 7, 2012

How do I pass all command line args to my bash alias called foo. For example:

alias foo=”/path/to/command $@”

However $@ get interpreted when creating the alias instead of during the execution of the alias and escaping the $ doesn’t work either. How do I solve this problem?

You need to use shell function instead of an alias to get rid of this problem. You can define foo as follows:

function foo() { /path/to/command "$@" ;}


foo() { /path/to/command "$@" ;}

Finally, call your foo() using the following syntax:
foo arg1 arg2 argN
Make sure you add your foo() to ~/.bash_profile file.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

32 comment

  1. If you are using ‘bash’ for instance… you’d add something like this to .bashrc in your home directory.

    function check_config () {
    su -c “/var/lib/rancid/bin/clogin $@” -l rancid -s /bin/bash;

    Then re-source your .bashrc via [email protected]:~$ . ~/.bashrc

  2. Thank you Vivek for this!!!

    I add this into .profile (in the home dir of my mac) and it works like a charm:
    function s8080(){ /Applications/mamp8080/ “$@”;}

    Thus, the “alias” becomes s8080 (i.e. the function name is the “alias”).


  3. Although old this seemed to be a top result for alias arguments, so thought I’d add my 2cents;

    In my .bashrc I’ve defined functions directly – there’s no need to reference a shell script, so I’ve got

    function chrome {

    Which means when I type;

    chrome “any phrase”

    into a terminal it opens a google chrome window with the search result for “any phrase”. Fairly handy…

  4. I come for a FreeBSD environment using csh. In it I can do an alias like this:

    qp grep -h -i !^ /var/log/qpopper

    and type qp username to output the found lines of the qpopper file.

    I can’t seem to find something similar in bash.

    Got any ideas? Thanks.

  5. You don’t have to use a function to do this. You just need to escape the $@ when you’re setting this with the alias command like so:

    % alias myecho="echo \$@"
    myecho "hello world"
    hello world
    1. @slmingol: I think it does have to be a function and the “myecho” command you list doesn’t work. If you try this —

      alias myecho=”echo pre\[email protected]
      myecho “hello world”
      prepost hello world

      You can see that it’s just postpending the actual “hello world” at the end. You can do this type of thing in tcsh for sure, but not sure how to do it in bash. Here’s the tcsh representation —

      alias myecho ‘echo pre\!:1post’
      myecho “hello world”
      prehello worldpost

      And the bash function (you might need to unalias “myecho” before declaring this function… aliases seem to take precedent over functions, even if the function is declared after the alias) —

      function myecho() { echo [email protected]; }
      myecho “hello world”
      prehello worldpost

      Is there a way to do this in bash with aliases? Thanks for the thread, very helpful.

    2. Is there anyway to do what you describe above but have the command run in the background?

      % alias mycmd=”/usr/bin/doit \$@”

      When I enter ‘mycmd’ I want ‘doit’ to run in the background

    3. This doesn’t seem to work:
      alias hg=”if [ \$# = 0 ]; then history; else history|grep \$@ ; fi”
      hg works but hg world results in an error “bash: syntax error near unexpected token `world’.

  6. Why would you define an alias to point to a local function at all? It’s just one more redirect. Just calling the function waffle listed from the command line
    function myecho () { echo [email protected]; }

    Tip: to list your defined funtions use declare -F (similar to using “alias” to list your aliases)

  7. seems like bash’s alias wants to tack the argument list from the command line to the end of the aliased string. so for instance:

    new() { /bin/ls -lt “$@” | head ;}

    ends up executing “head *pdf” if i do “new *pdf” from the command line.

    while i understand this makes writing simple aliases easier, it complicates this case. how do i prevent bash from constructing the command line with the args tacked onto the end?

  8. Hello All,

    I try pass the argument from command line to my alias path.
    Here’s example —

    alias mypath=”/home/bin/Linux{32|64}-CentOS{5.10|6.4}-{buildID}.nightlyBuilds_{buildID}

    I’d like pass argument on the command line for those variable in curly bracket
    mypath “32” “6.4” “7.1.2”


  9. I have alias: gedit =’ gedit “$@” & /dev/null & disown %+’
    cause everytime open gedit it “blocks” terminal tab until I close gedit but it when I source .bashrc it says:
    bash: alias: gedit: not found
    bash: alias: = gedit “$@” & /dev/null & disown %+: not found

  10. All thanks above my it doesn’t work for me.
    I wanted to make an alias F so that when I type ‘F filename’ it searches for the file filename. I’m on ubunut14.04.4LTS using bash. I made this alias in my .bashrc
    function F() { find . -name “$@”; }
    I resourced it but when I type ‘F’ it give me
    find: paths must precede expression:
    Usage: find [-H] [-L] [-P] [-Olevel] [-D help|tree|search|stat|rates|opt|exec] [path…] [expression]
    what is wrong?

    1. I just tried in .bashrc
      alias F=’find . -name $@’
      and it works. See below. no need to define function..
      [email protected]:~/prj/abts/abfrcnn/py-faster-rcnn$ F

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