Boston Python Workshop 5/Friday/OSX terminal navigation

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There are three commands that we'll be using at a command prompt to navigate the filesystem on your computer:

  • ls
  • pwd
  • cd

ls lists the contents of a directory.
pwd gives the full directory path to your current directory.
cd moves you into a new directory (it stands for "change directory").

Let's practice using these commands.

[edit] Open a command prompt:

You can find the Terminal application through Spotlight, or navigate to Applications/Utilities/Terminal.

[edit] Practice using ls, pwd, and cd

(that's an l the letter, not the number 1)

Before you practice these commands, let's make sure you are really at a terminal prompt. Recall that a terminal prompt will look like jesstess$ and a Python prompt will look like >>>. Make sure you are at a terminal prompt and not a Python prompt; if you are at a Python prompt, you can type exit() on a line by itself and then hit enter to exit Python and return to a terminal prompt. Great!

Type each of these commands and hit enter:

ls

This lists all the files in your home directory.


pwd

This displays the full directory path to your current directory, which is your home directory.


cd /

This will change you into the / root directory.


ls

This lists the contents of the / root directory.


cd Users

This will change you into the Users subdirectory of the / root directory.


ls

You should see a list of all the files in /Users, including the directory for your username -- your home directory.


pwd

This displays the full directory path to your current directory, /Users.


cd ..

.. means "parent directory", so this command moved you up to the parent directory. You were in /Users, so now you are in /, the root directory.


ls

This lists the contents of the root directory, confirming where you are.


  • You can use Tab to auto-complete directory and file names. So from inside the root directory, if you type cd U and hit Tab, the command prompt will auto-complete the directory name as much as it can.
  • The command prompt maintains a command history. You can use the up arrow to cycle through old commands.

[edit] Success!

You've practiced using ls, pwd, and cd to navigate your computer's filesystem from the command prompt.

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