bind - macOS


The bind command in macOS is used primarily within shell environments to associate or bind keyboard sequences with shell functions, or to reconfigure the behavior of the keyboard in interactive shell environments. This command is integral for customizing the user’s command-line interface to streamline and optimize the interaction pattern based on individual workflow.


The syntax of the bind command follows this basic structure:

bind [-lmpsPSVX] [-m keymap] [-f filename] [-q name] [-u name] [-r keyseq] [keyseq: function-name] [keyseq: readline-command]

The command can be used to display current bindings (if no arguments are given), apply new bindings, or remove existing ones.


  • -l: List names of all Readline functions.
  • -m keymap: Specify a keymap to be affected by the binding. Common keymaps are emacs, vi-command, and vi-insert.
  • -p: List current Readline function names and bindings in a format that can be reused as input.
  • -P: List current Readline function names and bindings in a format that shows the key sequences.
  • -s: Display or set Readline variables.
  • -S: Display current readline key bindings in a format that shows only the macros.
  • -f filename: Read key bindings from the specified file.
  • -q name: Query information about the function bound to the name.
  • -u name: Unbind all keys bound to the specified Readline function.
  • -r keyseq: Remove current binding for this key sequence.
  • -V: Display version information about Readline.
  • -X: Display key sequences bound to macros and their associated strings.


  1. Listing Current Bindings:

    bind -P

    This command prints all current keyboard bindings in a user-readable form.

  2. Reading Bindings from a File:

    bind -f ~/.mybindings

    Load keybindings from a file located at the user’s home directory.

  3. Setting a New Binding:

    bind '"\C-x\C-r": re-read-init-file'

    Bind the key combination Ctrl+x followed by Ctrl+r to the Readline function re-read-init-file.

  4. Unbinding a Key Sequence:

    bind -r "\C-x\C-r"

    Remove the binding for the key sequence Ctrl+x followed by Ctrl+r.

Common Issues

  • Key Sequences Not Working: Ensure that the terminal emulator supports the key sequences used in bindings. Some key combinations might be reserved or not transmitted properly by certain terminal programs.

  • Syntax Errors in Binding File: Verify the syntax in binding configuration files with caution. Errors can prevent the shell from reading your custom bindings.


The bind command can be combined effectively with shell scripting or in .bashrc/.bash_profile files to customize the shell environment when it starts. For instance, users can create a startup script that sets up preferred bindings each time a new terminal session begins.

  • set: Often used alongside bind to configure shell options in Bash.
  • stty: Used to change and print terminal line settings, has some overlapping capabilities with bind related to keyboard input.

For more advanced details on binding and keyboard sequence configuration, refer to the GNU Readline library official documentation.