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Some of My Favorite Shell Commands

September 4, 2022, by Anders Ramsay

If you create a new directory in your terminal, what is your likely next step? Probably cd'ing into the directory.

In other words, you're first doing mkdir somedir followed by cd somedir.

If I find myself typing something like this on a regular basis, I'll create a custom command for it.

Create a Directory and cd Into It In One Command

Here is the very simple function mkcd I created.

function mkcd
mkdir -p $argv ; cd $argv

Now all you need to do is type mkcd and you've combined the two steps into one.

The above is written for the fish shell. Adding custom commands in Fish is ridiculously trivial. Here is a great article describing the process.

If you use a bash shell, your script will look something like this:

function mkcd() {
mkdir -p $1 ; cd $1

And here you can learn about adding custom commands in bash.

Here are a few more custom commands I use quite a bit. They're written for Fish, but should be easy to rewrite for bash.

New Git Branch

Checking out a new branch with the -b modifier in order to create a new branch is not intuitive and a lot to type. I decided I prefer gnew instead.

function gnew
git checkout -b $argv

Delete git branches

Now that we've added branches, we want an easy way to delete them.

function gbd
git branch -d $argv

Now you can just type gbd first-branch other_branch FOObranch and git will attempt to delete them all. I use the lowercase -d so Git will tell me if the branch is not fully merged.

NPM Uninstall

Much faster than typing npm uninstall.

function nu
npm uninstall $argv

Just g for git

Since Git is something I use all day, I created what basically is an alias for git.

function g
git $argv

Now I can just type g push or whatever. I've done the same for other very common commands I type, eg y for yarn and so forth.

Git First Push

I like to be able to just type g push when I am in a branch, to push new code. However, for that to work I need to tell Git that I want to push to the remote branch matching the name of the branch I am in. Here is a script for doing that.

function gfpush
git push --set-upstream origin (git status | head -1 | string split ' ')[-1] $argv

Basically, I use this command the first time I push code in a new branch, and after that I can just type g push.

Those are a few of my favorites.

My one tip for creating custom commands

As a closing thought, if you are considering writing your own custom commands, don't do what I did initially, which was to combine way too many things into one command. 😭

Not surprisingly, the custom commands I use the most are the ones that are simple and do one, or maybe two, things.