Creating Aliases on Linux and Mac

January 12, 2021 | 2 min read

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Note: The following steps should also apply to MacOS as well.

Are you tired of typing long commands into the terminal? Did you misremember a flag causing an error making you pull out your hair for 2 minutes only to realize that flag doesn't exist? Well worry no more because I'll be showing you how to create aliases for all of those pesky hard-to-remember commands.

What are aliases?

An alias is just a fancy term for nicknaming a certain command.

They are very useful because instead of typing out a long command with several flags and options, you can nickname it to a shorter command (i.e. give it an alias) and simply remember the shorter command.

Editing the .bashrc File

The first step in creating aliases is to open up a new terminal window and head over to your user's directory like so:

cd /home/<username>

Note: By convention, you would usually define your aliases inside of the .bashrc file but because defining all of your aliases here can get out of hand pretty quick, we'll be creating a separate file in which we'll be defining our aliases.

From here, you'll want to open up the .bashrc file like so:

sudo nano .bashrc

Inside of .bashrc you'll want to paste in the following snippet of code:

# Alias
if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
. ~/.bash_aliases

The snippet of code above simply tells bash that if the file .bash_aliases exists then load it and run it.

Now, enter CTRL + XYEnter to save the file.

Creating Aliases

Inside of the /home/<username> directory, you'll want to create a new file called .bash_aliases You can do so with the following command:

touch .bash_aliases

It's in this file that you'll want to create your aliases. Open up the .bash_aliases file like so:

sudo nano .bash_aliases

Now, to create an alias you can do the following:

## alias <name of alias>="<bash command>"
## Example:
## alias l="ls -lah"
## To apply changes run the following:
## source ~/.bashrc

alias l="ls -lah"

To save your file you can do CTRL+XYEnter.

Now, enter one last command to load our aliases.

source ~/.bashrc

That's it!

Now, if you type in your custom alias into the terminal, it would be like if you were actually typing the longer command that you aliased.

Note: Every time you edit the .bash_aliases file you will have to reload the .bashrc file or start a new terminal session for the changes to take effect.

Thanks and have a good one!

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