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Meta-p is one of my all time most used and most loved features of working at the command line. It's also one that surprisingly few people know about. To use it with bash (actually in any readline application), you'll need to add a couple lines to your .inputrc then have bash reread the .inputrc using the bind command:
echo '"\en": history-search-forward' >> ~/.inputrc
echo '"\ep": history-search-backward' >> ~/.inputrc
bind -f ~/.inputrc
I first learned about this feature in tcsh. When I switched over to bash about fifteen years ago, I had assumed I'd prefer ^R to search in reverse. Intuitively ^R seemed better since you could search for an argument instead of a command. I think that, like using a microkernel for the Hurd, it sounded so obviously right fifteen years ago, but that was only because the older way had benefits we hadn't known about.
I think many of you who use the command line as much as I do know that we can just be thinking about what results we want and our fingers will start typing the commands needed. I assume it's some sort of parallel processing going on with the linguistic part of the brain. Unfortunately, that parallelism doesn't seem to work (at least for me) with searching the history. I realize I can save myself typing using the history shortly after my fingers have already started "speaking". But, when I hit ^R in Bash, everything I've already typed gets ignored and I have to stop and think again about what I was doing. It's a small bump in the road but it can be annoying, especially for long-time command line users. Usually M-p is exactly what I need to save myself time and trouble.
If you use the command line a lot, please give Meta-p a try. You may be surprised how it frees your brain to process more smoothly in parallel. (Or maybe it won't. Post here and let me know either way. ☺)
There are 3 alternatives - vote for the best!
Searches bash-history in reverse order (last entered commands first). Pressing ctrl+r again shows the next matching entry.
greps your bash history for whatever you type in at the end returning it in reverse chronological order (most recent invocations first), should work on all distros.
works well as an alias
If you can do better, submit your command here.
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