cd - Linux


The cd command, short for change directory, is a fundamental shell command in Linux and other Unix-like operating systems. Its primary purpose is to change the current working directory of the shell or terminal environment where it is executed. This command is essential for navigating the filesystem structure, managing files, and executing other commands in different directories.


The basic syntax for the cd command is as follows:

cd [options] [directory]
  • directory: The path to the directory you want to switch to. This can be an absolute path or a relative path. If no directory is provided, cd will default to the home directory of the current user.


cd typically has a limited set of options, including:

  • -L: Follow symbolic links; this is the default behavior where cd follows symbolic links when changing directories.
  • -P: Do not follow symbolic links; with this option, cd treats the link as a regular directory.

If no options are provided, cd uses the -L option by default.


  1. Change to Home Directory:
    Simply typing cd without any arguments returns the user to their home directory:

  2. Change to a Specific Directory:
    To change to a user-specific directory by providing an absolute path:

    cd /usr/local/bin
  3. Navigating Up One Directory Level:
    The .. represents the parent directory:

    cd ..
  4. Using a Relative Path:
    Change to a directory relative to the current directory:

    cd ./docs
  5. Change to Previous Directory:
    Switch back to the previous directory:

    cd -

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: Users may encounter a “Permission Denied” error if they do not have the necessary permissions to enter a particular directory. Using sudo or changing permissions can resolve this issue.

  • Directory Not Found: Typing errors or incorrect paths will lead to this error. Double-check the path or use tab completion to fill in the correct directory names.


The cd command can be integrated with other commands for scripting or batch tasks:

cd /var/log && tail -f syslog

This command chain will change the directory to /var/log and then immediately display the tail end of the syslog, updating it in real-time.

  • pwd (Print Working Directory): Displays the name of the current directory.
  • ls (List): Lists the contents of a directory, useful for checking contents before or after a directory change.
  • mkdir (Make Directory): Used to create a new directory, often followed by cd to switch into the newly created directory.

For further reading and more detailed information, consider consulting the official Linux man pages or the GNU Core Utilities documentation.