A tilde is ~ and pipe is |

The home directory

The symbol ~ stands for your home directory. This is usually /Users/username on a mac and something like c:\Users\username on a PC. You can use this to always make sure you’re talking about the right place without typing too much.

  • cd ~/Desktop will always take you right to your desktop
  • cd ~/Downloads will always take you right to your downloads folder
  • atom ~/.bash_profile will maybe use Atom to open the file named .bash_profile that is sitting in your home directory

It doesn’t seem that useful when I type it all out but I promise you’ll use it all of the time.

When I say “home” you think “~

Redirecting output with >

You can use > to take the output of a command (or a list of commands) and save it to a file. It’s called redirecting output. It’s nice.

Let’s say we want to find all of the lines in animals.txt that mention camel and save it to camels.txt. First we grep to display the lines, then we use > to redirect the output to a file.

grep camel animals.txt > camel.txt

Let’s say our p key was broken, so we unfortunately could not use the cp (copy) command. Because we’re practically geniuses, we could use cat and > instead. cat will display the entire file, then > will save that output into your file (a.k.a. redirect it to the file).

cat animals.txt > animals2.txt

Maybe a cunning yet overly nosy professor wants to know everything you’ve been typing on the command line. The history command displays your last however-many commands you’ve typed. Maybe he asks you to save your history to a file called history.txt on your Desktop.

history > ~/Desktop/history.txt

| - Piping

Piping - using a | - is taking the output from one command and sending it to another.

Example 1

  • We know we can use grep dog animals.txt to see all of the lines inside of animals.txt that contain the text dog.
  • We know we can use wc -l animals.txt to count the lines inside of animals.txt

But what if we want to find the lines that contain dog, and then count those lines? Piping, obviously!

grep dog animals.txt | wc -l

Example 2

  • We know we can use cat names.txt to view a list of names in the names.txt file
  • We know we can use uniq names.txt to get rid of adjacent lines that are the same
  • We know we can use sort names.txt to put the names in alphabetical order

Maybe we want to see a list of every name in names.txt, but no repeats. We can’t just use uniq, because it only removes repeats next to each other. We need to sort the list of names and then get rid of repeats.

cat names.txt | sort | uniq

You could also just do

sort names.txt | uniq

And if you wanted to see how many times each name appears? You could add the -c (count) flag to uniq.

sort names.txt | uniq -c