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Avoid Duplicate Entries in Bash History

Bash history is a useful feature for any Linux user, allowing them to quickly access and repeat previously executed commands. However, one c...

Bash history is a useful feature for any Linux user, allowing them to quickly access and repeat previously executed commands. However, one common issue that many users face is the presence of duplicate entries in their bash history. This can make it difficult to find and use the desired command, leading to frustration and wasted time.

Thankfully, there are some simple steps that can be taken to avoid duplicate entries in bash history. In this article, we will discuss the causes of duplicate entries and provide some tips to prevent them.

Causes of Duplicate Entries

Duplicate entries in bash history can be caused by a few different factors. One of the most common reasons is the use of multiple terminal windows or tabs. Each of these windows has its own bash history, which can lead to the same command being recorded multiple times.

Another possible cause is the use of multiple shells, such as bash and zsh. These shells have their own history files, which can result in duplicate entries if the same command is executed in both shells.

Additionally, if you have a habit of using the up and down arrow keys to navigate through your history, you may accidentally execute the same command multiple times, resulting in duplicate entries.

How to Avoid Duplicate Entries

To prevent duplicate entries in your bash history, here are some simple tips to follow:

1. Use a single terminal window or tab

By using a single terminal window or tab, you can ensure that all your bash history is recorded in one place. This will prevent duplicate entries caused by multiple windows or tabs.


The HISTSIZE and HISTFILESIZE variables control the amount of history that is stored in your bash history file. By default, these values are set to 500, meaning that only the last 500 commands will be recorded. You can increase these values to store more history, but keep in mind that a larger history file can lead to slower performance.

To set these variables, add the following lines to your ~/.bashrc file:



You can adjust the values as needed.

3. Use the append history option

With the append history option, every time you execute a command, it will be appended to your history file instead of overwriting the previous entry. To enable this option, add the following line to your ~/.bashrc file:

shopt -s histappend

4. Use the history command

The history command allows you to view and manage your bash history. By using the history command with different options, you can remove duplicate entries or prevent them from being recorded.

To remove duplicate entries from your current session, use the following command:

history -w

This will write the current history to your history file, removing any duplicate entries.

To prevent duplicate entries from being recorded in the first place, you can use the following command to ignore duplicates when writing to the history file:

history -a

This will only add new commands to your history file, ignoring any duplicates.

5. Use a single shell

If you use multiple shells, such as bash and zsh, you may end up with duplicate entries in your history file. To avoid this, choose a single shell and stick with it.

Final Thoughts

Duplicate entries in bash history can be a nuisance, but by following the tips mentioned above, you can avoid them and have a clean and organized history. Remember to use a single terminal window, set

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