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Updated Tue, 26 Jul 2022 04:16:58 GMT

Is there a way of using ctrl-r after typing part of command in bash?

In bash the Ctrl+r command is very useful, I type Ctrl+r whatever and it searchs my history for commands containing the word whatever. But if I type whatever and realize that I would like search that word and hit Ctrl+r nothing happens.

Is there a way hitting a key and having it behaving as if I had typed Ctrl+r whatever instead of whatever Ctrl+r?

I have the following in my .inputrc:

"\C-p": history-search-backward

but this only works if the beginning of the line is the same.


You can search bash's history using what you have already typed easily.

Suppose you have just typed curl -I and you forgot to type Ctrl+r first:

$ curl -I

If you want to do an i-search on your history, go to the beginning of line first (Ctrl+a), enter i-search (Ctrl+r) and type Ctrl+y. This should search using the contents of the whole text you already typed:

(reverse-i-search)`curl -I': curl -I

Alternatively, you can use Ctrl+w instead of Ctrl+y to search using just the first word of the text you just typed:

(reverse-i-search)`curl': curl -I

Binding it all to a single key

If you want to do all this in one keystroke, you can bind a single key to a keyboard macro. If you want to use, say, F12 run:

$ bind '"\e[24~":"\C-a\C-r\C-y"'

That will last for the session.

Making it permanent

Just define the macro in your ~/.inputrc:


Note that here we omit the single quotes.

You might find this answer useful.

Comments (4)

  • +1 – I am not sure if it is a problem with my configuration, but after I type c-r typing c-y does not paste anything there. If I type c-y by itself just pastes the text, so I cannot combine the two commands... — Nov 05, 2012 at 14:49  
  • +0 – Do you go to beginning of line first? (C-a) — Nov 05, 2012 at 20:15  
  • +1 – You are right, I wasn't going to beginning of line. Now I have in my .inputrc "\C-xr": "\C-a\C-r\C-y" and it works very nice! Thanks for this answer. — Nov 06, 2012 at 03:04  
  • +0 – I think it is the third time I googled this control+a control+r control+y thing! Thanks this answer is always here! :) — Nov 25, 2017 at 21:13  

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