Bash: Reissue And Repeat A Long Command Without Retyping It on a Linux, OS X & Unix

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I‘m a new Ubuntu Linux user. In Linux, Apple OS X or Unix-like systems, how do I reissue or repeat a long command without retying it?

You need to use the history command to display or manipulate the history list on a Linux or Unix-like systems. This command displays the list of commands previously typed with line numbers, prefixing each modified entry with a *.

The bash shell supports a history expansion feature that is similar to the history expansion in csh.

Display list of previously typed commands

Simply type the following command:

history 10
history | less
history | grep 'command-name-here'

Sample outputs:

Fig.01: Bash history command output
Fig.01: Bash history command output

How do I reissue a long command without retyping it?

To reissue a command in bash/csh/tcsh/zsh shell, type ! the exclamation point followed by the number of the command you would like to run or repeat. For example, if you would like to reissue command ‘ssh [email protected]’ from the above output i.e. command # 80, type:


Scrolling through the command line history

You can also scroll through the command line history simply by using the [up] and [down] arrow keys too.

Searching the command line history

Press [CTRL-r] from the shell prompt to search backwards through history buffer or file for a command. After pressing [CTRL-r] just type first few command letter such as ssh:

(reverse-i-search)`ssh ': ssh -X [email protected]

To search all ssh related commands press [CTRL-r] again:

Gif.01: Bash/tcsh/zsh: Command search demo
Gif.01: Bash/tcsh/zsh: Command search demo

To repeat last command just type !! at a shell prompt

Say you type a long command:

ssh -X -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -o CheckHostIP=no -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -i /Users/veryv/.ssh/google_compute_engine -A -p 22 veryv@ --

To repeat the same last command again, just type !!:


Or you can also refer to the previous command using:


To repeat to the most recent command starting with word ‘ssh’ type:


For more info see man pages – bash(1),zsh(1),tcsh(1)

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+.

7 comment

  1. Sometimes is is dangerous to just use the exclamation point with the first letter. It may pull up and execute a command you did not intend. To avoid this use the print option (‘:p’) after. For example to just print out the last command beginning with r, but not execute it you would enter the following:


    Bash will print out the command and make it the final command in your history, for example:

       rm *xml

    Now you can press the up arrow and execute that command or edit it and then execute it by pressing the Enter key.

  2. I really like Ctrl-r. It is useful for accessing a command by part of the command in the middle also. You can keep adding letters to your search or doing Ctrl-r to cycle through what matches that that you already have input. When you are satisfied that it is a command you want to run – then hit enter. If it is almost the command that you want to run, but requires some more modification, then hit .
    Ctrl-r can also be used on an existing line to go back to a character in that line. To go back to the closest space – Ctrl-r and
    For more control within an existing line, use Ctrl-Alt-] to move backwards
    For more control within an existing line, use Ctrl-] to move forwards
    For these can be replaced by any character.

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