bind - Linux


The bind command in Linux is used for binding or unbinding keystrokes to shell functions or assigning keys to readline commands, enhancing the command-line interface’s interactivity and efficiency. It is particularly useful in customizing keyboard shortcuts in bash or other shells, allowing users to streamline their command-line operations.


The basic syntax for the bind command is as follows:

bind [options] [keyseq: function or readline command]
  • keyseq: Specifies the key sequence to be bound.
  • function or readline command: Defines what action is to be performed by the binding.


The bind command includes several options:

  • -m keymap: Specifies the keymap to use for the binding. Default is emacs.
  • -l: Lists names of all readline functions.
  • -f filename: Reads key bindings from the specified file.
  • -q function: Queries readline about the key sequences bound to the function.
  • -u function: Unbinds all keys bound to the specified function.
  • -r keyseq: Removes the binding for the given key sequence.
  • -v: Lists all current key bindings in a reusable format.
  • -p: Lists all key bindings in an output format that can be reused as input.
  • -x: Executes a shell command associated with a key binding.


1. List all current readline key bindings in a reusable format:

bind -v

2. Bind the F2 key to display the current path:

bind '"\eOQ":"pwd\n"'

3. Unbind the F2 key:

bind -r '\eOQ'

4. Read and set bindings from a file named bindings.bash:

bind -f bindings.bash

Common Issues

  • Conflicting Key Bindings: Ensure no other applications or terminal settings conflict with the key bindings set using bind.
  • Non-persistent Bindings: Key bindings made using bind are not persistent across sessions unless placed in a configuration file like .bashrc.
  • Syntax Errors: Syntax must be precise. Errors can cause the terminal to behave unpredictably or ignore the binding.


Combine bind with other commands to enhance usability. For example, create a bash function in your .bashrc to list directories with a single key:

# Add this function to your .bashrc
bind '"\eOd":"ls -l\n"'

Every time you press the specified key combination, it will execute ls -l.

  • readline: Library that provides the bind capabilities.
  • bash: Default shell on many Linux systems where bind is frequently used.
  • set: Command used to set options in bash, some of which can interact with bind configurations.

For further reading and more advanced topics related to bind, visit the official GNU Readline documentation or the bash man page (man bash on most Linux systems).