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How to Display Command History in Linux OS

The “history” command is being used for displaying a list of commands that have been run.

The history command

  • Display a list of commands that have been run

[root@test-aws-test ~]# history
   5  ls -l
    6  cd dir1
    7  ls -l
    8  touch test{1..10}
 995  netstat
  996  netstat -l
  997  netstat -t
  998  netstat -p
  999  netstat -nltp
 1000  history

  • Display five recent commands that have been run

[root@test-aws-test ~]# history 5
  999  netstat -nltp
 1000  history
 1001  history 5
 1002  history
 1003  history 5

  • Execute a command by number in the history

[root@test-aws-test kadai2]# !855
df -h
Filesystem  	Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
devtmpfs    	475M 	0  475M   0% /dev
tmpfs       	492M 	0  492M   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs       	492M  400K  492M   1% /run
tmpfs       	492M 	0  492M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/xvda1  	8.0G  2.8G  5.3G  35% /
tmpfs        	99M 	0   99M   0% /run/user/1000

When you want to execute the command of number 855 in the list, the history command allows you to run that command by using “!” + “number(855)”.

  • Display command history that includes “mkdir”

[root@test-aws-test ~]# history | grep mkdir
 194  mkdir test
  197  mkdir dir3
  291  mkdir test1
  298  mkdir txt.1 txt.2
  385  mkdir test
  820  mkdir test
  836  mkdir sntax
  842  mkdir syntax
  965  mkdir test
 1003  history | grep mkdir

It’s possible to display a list of a specified command from the history using the “grep”.

After “history”, add “| (pipe)” + “grep” + “ the command you want to display”.

A way of searching history other than using “history” command

Pressing “Ctrl” + “r” in the terminal opens the searching mode for command history!

For example, search commands that contain “w” from command history, the output looks like this.

(reverse-i-search)`w': pwd

Once you see a command you are looking for, you can press enter to run the command.

It displays from the most recent command from history that you can go back one by one by pressing “Ctrl” + “r” each time.


With just the “history” command, it displays a list of all the commands that have been run, but if you use “grep” to narrow down, it shows a list of only commands that you are looking for. That may help to save your time.

This blog post is translated from a blog post written by Inoue Ayaka on our Japanese website Beyond Co..


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