Navigating the Command Line: An Introduction to the Bash Shell


Navigating the command line can be intimidating for beginners, but it is a powerful tool for executing tasks efficiently with minimal effort. The Bash shell is a popular command line interface used on most operating systems such as Linux, macOS, and Windows 10. In this article, we will explore the basics of navigating the command line using the Bash shell.

Basics of the Bash Shell

The Bash shell is a command line interpreter that allows users to interact with the underlying operating system through commands. Once the terminal window is open, you can start typing commands in the terminal prompt. The prompt usually displays your username and the current directory you are in.


The tilde (~) represents the home directory of the user. To display the current working directory, type the command pwd

    user@computer:~$ pwd

Navigating the Filesystem

The Bash shell allows you to navigate the filesystem just like you would with a graphical file manager. The cd command is used to change directories.

    user@computer:~$ cd Documents

To go back to the previous directory, you can use the cd .. command.

    user@computer:~/Documents$ cd ..

You can also use the ls command to list the files and directories in the current directory.

    user@computer:~$ ls
    Documents  Downloads  Music  Pictures  Public  Templates  Videos

Executing Commands

The Bash shell allows you to execute commands directly in the terminal window. For example, to launch a web browser, you can type the command firefox.

    user@computer:~$ firefox

You can also execute scripts or programs by typing their full path or adding the directory to the PATH environment variable.

Working with Files

The Bash shell provides several commands for working with files such as creating, copying, and deleting. For example, to create a new directory, you can use the mkdir command.

    user@computer:~$ mkdir my_directory

To create a new file, you can use the touch command.

    user@computer:~$ touch myfile.txt

To copy a file, you can use the cp command.

    user@computer:~$ cp myfile.txt newfile.txt

To delete a file, you can use the rm command.

    user@computer:~$ rm newfile.txt


The Bash shell is a powerful tool for navigating the command line and executing tasks efficiently. By mastering the basics of the Bash shell, you can perform everyday tasks with ease and increase your productivity. So start exploring the power of the command line and take control of your system like a pro!