Arbeiten mit Terminal/Command Line

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  1. Starten des Terminals
  2. Deinen ersten Befehl ausführen
  3. Where am I?
  4. What’s here?
  5. What’s in there?
  6. Some things are hidden
  7. Making a path
  8. Going there
  9. Making paths relative
  10. Going home
  11. What’s up there?
  12. Tab completion saves the day
  13. Cancel what you’re doing
  14. Create a file
  15. Delete a file
  16. Create a directory
  17. Delete a directory
  18. Delete just those files
  19. Finding the file you need
  20. Learning more about a command
  21. Download a file
  22. Browsing output
  23. Search for text within a file
  24. Search for more
  25. Write output to a file
  26. Fun with pipes
  27. Play it again

Eine Einführung in die Benutzung der Kommandozeile, auch command line, shell, terminal und bash genannt. Technisch gibt es Unterschiede, die sollen hier zunächst aber keine Rolle spielen. Zur Vereinfachung sprechen hier vom Terminal.

Starten des Terminals

Das Terminal findest du im Verzeichnis Programme/Dienstprogramme, bei Windows nennt es sich PowerShell. Beide findest du bei MacOS oder Windows auch über die Suche. Sobald du sie startest, sollest du ggf. so etwas sehen:


Dies ist die Stelle, an der du deine Befehle schreibst. Wenn du das $ in den folgenden Beispielen siehst, schreibe das bitte nicht. Das ist lediglich ein Hinweis auf die Eingabe von Befehlen. Drücke Return, um den Befehl auszuführen.

Im Terminal gibt es keine Touch- oder Mauseingaben. Du kannst alle Befehle über die Tastatur ausführen.

Deinen ersten Befehl ausführen

Schreibe den Befehl nach dem Dollar-Zeichen und drücke Enter:

$ echo hello

echo just outputs what you tell it the command line. That’s all it does. This may not seem very useful, but it illustrates an important concept. On the command line you type commands, like echo. These commands take arguments, like hello.

Where am I?

The command line has a sense of location, that is, what folder you are in at any given time. This is called your current working directory. (Directory is just another name for a “folder”.) To see what directory you are in right now:

$ pwd

pwd is short for “print working directory”. By default the terminal always starts you in your home directory, which is named with your login username. This is the same directory which contains your Documents folder on OSX, so you are probably familiar with it.

What’s here?

To see what files are inside the current working directory, use the ls command:

$ ls
Applications			bin
Documents			    external_lbrs
Downloads			    feed.json
Library				    floobits
Movies				    gitconfig
Music				    google_analytics_auth.dat
Pictures			    pgadmin.log
Public				    s3cfg
SpiderOak Hive			src
VirtualBox VMs			syria
adt-bundle-mac			tmp

This is all the stuff in my home directory. Yours will look different.

What’s in there?

What if you want to see what files are in a different directory?

$ ls Documents
Arduino				android-workspace
Aspyr				eagle
GoPro Projects		gopromote.prm
Hero Lab			nicar_expenses.pdf
Klei				nicar_receipts.pdf
Library				orchard bank travel number.txt			pedagogy.txt			piano
MapBox				test.txt
NACIS notes.txt		tyler-env.txt

By passing Docuemnts as an argument to ls, it’s shown me the files in my Documents directory, which is inside my home directory.

Some things are hidden

By default, the ls will not show you files whose names being with a period. These are called hidden files are are usually related to configuring programs. However, it’s very often useful to see these files, which you can do with the -a flag:

$ ls -a
.				        .pypirc
..				        .python-eggs
.CFUserTextEncoding		.qgis
.DS_Store			    .qgis2
.MacOSX			    	.relay.conf
.NERDTreeBookmarks		.rnd
.Platformer		       	.rstudio-desktop
.Rhistory			    .s3cfg
.Rube Goldberg			.spyder2
.Trash			    	.sqlite_history
.Xauthority		    	.ssh
.android		    	.subversion
.anyconnect		    	.teamocil
.bash_history			.tilemill
.bash_profile			.tmux.conf
.build			    	.tox
.cache			    	.uibtedbn
.clan_auth.dat			.vagrant.d
.clan_secrets.json		.vim
.config			    	.viminfo
.cordova		    	.viminfo.tmp
.cups			    	.viminfz.tmp
.distlib		    	.vimrc
.dropbox		    	.virtualenvs
.dropbox-master			.wireshark
.eaglerc		    	.wireshark-etc
.ec2			    	.ypp_42
.floorc		    		.zcompdump
.fontconfig		    	.zcompdump-nomad-5.0.2
.gem			    	.zprofile
.gitconfig		    	.zsh-update
.gitsh_history			.zsh_history
.gnome2			    	.zshrc
.gnupg			    	Applications
.goaccessrc		    	Confidential
.godot			    	Desktop
.haxelib		    	Documents
.heroku			    	Downloads
.hkzftsorc		    	Dropbox
.hxcpp_config.xml		Library
.hxcpp_config.xml.bak	Movies
.ievms			      	Music
.infinit		    	Pictures
.inkscape-etc			Public
.ipython		    	SpiderOak Hive
.keybase		    	VirtualBox VMs
.keybase-installer		adt-bundle-mac
.lesshst		    	android-sdk-macosx
.lighttable		    	bin
.mongorc.js		    	external_lbrs
.netrc			    	feed.json
.node-gyp		    	floobits
.npm			    	gitconfig
.oh-my-zsh		    	google_analytics_auth.dat
.pgadmin_histoqueries	pgadmin.log
.pgpass			    	s3cfg
.pip			    	src
.psql_history			syria
.pylint.d		    	tmp

You’re most likely to encounter these files if someone asks you to add something to your .bash_profile file in your home directory.

Making a path

In order to be effective on the command-line, you need to understand paths. A path is a series of directory names, separated by / and sometimes ending with a filename. A directory is just another name for a folder. Let’s go back to pwd:

$ pwd

So /Users/onyxfish is the path to my home directory.

What if wanted the path to the src directory that is inside my home directory. Then it would be:


And if we wanted the tshirt project directory inside that src directory?


And if we wanted the file inside the tshirt project?


Going there

Now that you can create a path, let’s go there!

$ cd /Users/onyxfish/Documents

cd is short for “change directory”, and it changes your current working directory. Now if you type ls you will see the files in your Documents folder:

$ ls
Arduino				android-workspace
Aspyr				eagle
GoPro Projects		gopromote.prm
Hero Lab			nicar_expenses.pdf
Klei				nicar_receipts.pdf
Library				orchard bank travel number.txt			pedagogy.txt			piano
MapBox				test.txt
NACIS notes.txt		tyler-env.txt

Making paths relative

You don’t always have to type the full path to a file. You can refer to a file by it’s path relative to your current directory. For example, from my home directory these two paths are equivalent:


The first path is an absolute path, meaning that it starts at the root of my hard drive, as designated by the leading /.

The second path is a relative path, meaning that it starts at your current working directory, the same directory that was listed when we ran pwd.

Going home

The command line includes a special symbol that always refers to your home directory. This is the ~. Whenever you type this symbol, it is the same as typing the path to your home directory, so when you need to get back to your home directory, simply type:

$ cd ~

You can also use the ~ to create paths. All of these paths are equivalent:


What’s up there?

Relative paths and the ~ are not the only ways to save time when constructing paths. It’s also important to know about . and, especially ..

. always refers to the directory you are in. The uses for this are not important now. .. always refers to the directory that contains the one your are in, that is, the directory above your current working directory.

Let’s say that I’m working on the tshirt project and I want to work on the commencement project. My directories look like this:


That is, my home directory contains the src directory, which contains the tshirt and commencement directories. I’m currently working in the tshirt diretory:

$ pwd

To get to the commencement directory I could type the absolute path:

$ cd /Users/onyxfish/src/commencement

But this is long-winded and I have to remember the entire path. Instead, I can construct a relative path using the .. syntax:

$ pwd
$ cd ..
$ pwd
$ cd commencement
$ pwd

Here you can see we’ve used the .. to move the directory above tshirt and then used a relative path to commencement to move into that directory. We can simplify this even further:

$ pwd
$ cd ../commencement
$ pwd

In this example we’ve used the .. to construct a relative path directly to the commencement directory. Note that I never had to remember the names of the directories containing these files to get from one to the other.

Tab completion saves the day

Even knowing about ~ and .. you are still going to be typing a lot of folder names. Fortunantly, your command line supports tab completion for both commands and directories. To see this in action, type this, but instead of hitting enter after the second command, hit the Tab key where indicated in the second command. (Don’t type [TAB].)

$ cd ~
$ cd Docu[TAB]

Tab completion will auto-complete Docu to Documents/. Remember this, you will use it constantly.

Cancel what you’re doing

Now if you followed directions you have $ cd Documents/ sitting in your command line. Let’s say we don’t actually want to run this command. We’ve changed our mind. To clear this command and reset back to and empty terminal hold the control key and press c. You’ll frequently see this abbreviated CTRL+C.

$ cd Documents/[CTRL+C]

It’s useful to imagine that the c stands for cancel. As you’ll see later on, CTRL+C is often used to exit command line programs, in addition to clearing what things you’ve typed, but then changed your mind about.

Create a file

You can create an empty file using the touch command. You won’t use this often, but it’s very helpful for what we’re going to do next.

$ touch test.txt

Now if you run ls you’ll see test.txt in the list of files.

Delete a file

To delete a file use the rm command and provide it’s filename as an argument.

$ rm test.txt

Now if you run ls you’ll see that test.txt is no more.

Take not that this is a little different than right-clicking a file in Finder and selecting “Move to Trash” because there is no Trash Can on the command line. Once you delete it, it’s simply gone.

Create a directory

Directories can be created using the mkdir command. This is equivalent to right-clicking in Finder and selecting “New Folder”:

$ mkdir test

Delete a directory

Directories are also deleted with rm, however, you have to do something special to delete a directory:

$ rm -r test

-r is an example of a flag. A flag is a sort of switch that you provide to a command. In this case the -r flag is short for “recursive”, which tells rm to delete both test and everything inside it.

To summarize:

  • rm is a command.
  • -r is a flag.
  • test is an argument.

Flags usually, but not always, come before arguments.

Be very careful with the -r flag. It’s a really easy way to delete a lot of things.

Delete just those files

What if I wanted to delete all the JPEGs in directory, but nothing else? First, let’s create some dummy JPEG files:

$ touch test1.jpg
$ touch test2.jpg
$ touch test3.jpg

To delete these three files we can use the * symbol, known as a glob or wildcard. The * means “match anything that matches both before and after”. Let’s look at some examples:

$ rm *.jpg

This will delete all files in the current working directory that end in .jpg.

$ rm test*

This will delete all files in the current working directory that begin with test.

$ rm test*.jpg

This will delete all files in the current working directory that begin with test and end with .jpg. This is the safest of these commands as it is the least likely to accidentally match something else.

Be careful when using globs that you don’t accidentally delete other things.

Finding the file you need

Finding files in the command line is an obvious thing you might need to do, and yet even some veteran terminal users can’t remember how to do it off the top of their had. The find command is a good example of an exception to the rules of the command line. In particular, it uses flags and arguments in a different way than the other commands we’ve looked at. Let’s create a file and find it:

$ touch test.txt
$ find . -name test.txt

In this case:

  • find is the command.
  • . is an argument, indicating what directory to search in. As you’ll recall, . always refers to the current directory. This will also search all directories within the current one, the directories within those directories and so on.
  • -name "test.txt" is a flag which takes a value, in this case, the name of the file you are looking for.

You can also combine find with the * to find files that match multiple files, for example:

$ touch test1.txt
$ touch test2.txt
$ find . -name test*.txt

Learning more about a command

In addition to searching for filenames you can use find to search by creation date, update date, file size and more. You can learn more about many command line commands by using the man command:

$ man find

This will open the builtin documentation for the command, which will explain all the flags and arguments it accepts. Not all commands have builtin documentation, but most do. Within the documentation you can use your arrow keys to navigate by line, f (forward) and b (forward) to navigate by pages and q to quit.

Download a file

One of the most common things you may need to do is grab a file from the internet so that you can work with it locally. This might be an image, the output of an API or who knows what else. For experimenting, let’s download the text of James Joyce’s Ulysses from Project Gutenberg.

$ curl -o ulysses.txt
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100 1536k  100 1536k    0     0   736k      0  0:00:02  0:00:02 --:--:--  737k

The -o flag allows us to specify the an output filename for the download.

Browsing output

Of all the data formats you might work with–spreadsheets, databases, images–the command line has a particularly robust set of tools for working with text. Text in this case means plain text, not Word documents, RTF or any other format.

Let’s us the the cat command to print the contents of our text file:

$ cat ulysses.txt
[lots of text here]
This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.

What happened here? All the text of Ulysses just scrolled past on your screen. The cat command is like echo except instead of printing whatever argument you give it, it prints the contents of a file. It doesn’t care how long that file is. To browse a long file, we should instead use less:

$ less ulysses.txt
<U+FEFF>The Project Gutenberg EBook of Ulysses, by James Joyce

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at
[more text here]

Within less the commands to navigate are the same as within man. Use the arrow keys to navigate by lines, f (forward) and b (backward) to navigate by pages and q to quit.

Note: there are many types of files which although not strictly text are never-the-less text-based formats, for example: CSV, YAML and JSON. In general the builtin command line tools are useful for processing these kinds of files as well.

Search for text within a file

more is useful for skimming a text file, but what if you’re looking for specific text? That’s where grep comes in:

$ grep stately ulysses.txt
stately figure entered between the newsboards of the _Weekly Freeman
Mrs M'Guinness, stately, silverhaired, bowed to Father Conmee from the

grep takes two arguments: the text to search for and the name of the file to search within. It searches, line-by-line, and outputs every line where that text appears.

You can also use the -c flag to output a count of the number of occurences:

$ grep -c lovely ulysses.txt

Note: you can’t use * in your text searches. Glob syntax does not work in this case. You must instead use regular expressions, which are beyond the scope of this tutorial. You can use the * to select multiple files to search!

Search for more

In the previous examples, we we’re searching for only a single word. If we tried to search for multiple words our output would be confusing:

$ grep -c lovely socks ulysses.txt
grep: socks: No such file or directory

grep treats every argument after the first one as a file to search. In order to search for a phrase, we need to quote the search argument:

$ grep "lovely socks" ulysses.txt
the tie he wore, his lovely socks and turnedup trousers. He wore a pair

It’s good to get in the habit of quoting text arguments. For example, early on you ran:

$ echo hello

Though this works, it would be better to quote the argument:

$ echo "hello world!"

Write output to a file

You now know enough for me to introduce you to some of the most powerful concepts in the command line: standard in and standard out. It’s helpful to think of these as channels through which data can travel into and out of a program. In the very simplest case, standard out is simply what you see printed to the command line after you run a command.

$ grep stately ulysses.txt
stately figure entered between the newsboards of the _Weekly Freeman
Mrs M'Guinness, stately, silverhaired, bowed to Father Conmee from the

In this example, lines 2 and 3 are printed to standard out. By default, anything printed to standard out appears on the command line after your command. But what if this isn’t what we want? What if you wanted to save your results into a file? You need redirection:

$ grep stately ulysses.txt > search.txt

The > is short for “redirect standard out to a file.”

$ cat search.txt
stately figure entered between the newsboards of the _Weekly Freeman
Mrs M'Guinness, stately, silverhaired, bowed to Father Conmee from the

Here we see that the results of our search are now saved in the file named search.txt. If we we’re to run this command again it would overwrite this file with the same results. What if we wanted to add more results to this file?

$ grep lovely ulysses.txt >> search.txt

The >> is short for “redirect standard out to a file, appending to it’s contents.” If you cat search.txt now, you’ll see it contains our search results for both “stately” and “lovely”.

Fun with pipes

Standard out is useful because you can redirect it to files, but it’s got another, even more useful function: redirecting to standard in. As I said before, standard in is a sort of channel through which you can pass data into your command. You can’t type into this channel, but you can send data into it using the |.

$ cat ulysses.txt | grep stately
stately figure entered between the newsboards of the _Weekly Freeman
Mrs M'Guinness, stately, silverhaired, bowed to Father Conmee from the

cat reads a file and outputs its contents onto standard out. As you’ll recall when we did this before it output the entire contents of the file, so we used less instead. In this case, we output the entire text of the file, but use the | symbol, which is short for “redirect standard out into standard in”. grep, in addition to accepting a filename, can also accept data on standard in. Thus these two commands are functionally identical:

$ grep stately ulysses.txt
$ cat ulysses.txt | grep stately

Because of the symbol, we call this piping, but it’s just a special kind of redirection. Let’s say that we want to search for lines that contain the word “mother” and the word “father”, but not necessarily together:

$ cat ulysses.txt | grep father | grep mother
     My mother's a jew, my father's a bird.
are the dispossessed son: I am the murdered father: your mother is the
excellent idea of affording the poor fatherless and motherless children
a bloody fool to it. Handed him the father and mother of a beating. See
he knows if he's a father or a mother.
from father to, mother to daughter, I mean. Bred in the bone. Milly for
father and thy mother that had the best hand to a rolypoly or a hasty
father and mother of a bating. _(With a tear in his eye)_ All insanity.
Kingsbridge station with his father and mother I was in mourning thats

In this example we’ve piped twice, first into a grep father and then into a grep mother to further filter the results. Want to save the final results to a file? Just redirect the output again:

$ cat ulysses.txt | grep father | grep mother > search.txt

Play it again

As you get used to using pipes you may find that your commands are getting very long. At some point the overhead of making a typo gets very frustrating. You don’t want to have to retype very long commands. Fortunantely, you can always go back to a command you executed before by pressing the up arrow at the command line. If you press it more than once, you can cycle back through the last commands you’ve executed. Just hit the enter key once you’ve found the one you want.

Sometimes the command you want is one you just entered, but one you entered an hour ago. In this case using the up arrow to find it may be very tedious. Instead, hold the control key and push r. This will put you into “reverse search mode”. Simply type in characters that appeared in your original command and terminal will find it. If you’ve run several commands with similar names you may have to type more characters to uniquely identify it. Once you’ve found the command you want, press enter to run it or the right arrow to put it into the command line but not run it.

Inspiriert von onyxfish/command-line-tutorial.