Combining cd and ls Into One Command

Andrew Braunstein and I were discussing how one might add a shell command to change a directory and list it using one command. I’m sure anyone who uses the shell is familiar with cd followed immediately by ls.

A search found this discussion on the forums. The suggestion was to add the following shell function to the .bashrc or .bash_profile:

if [ -d "$1" ]; then
cd "$1"

This works reasonably well, but I had a couple of complaints:

  1. Because the function does nothing if the argument is not a directory, when we try to cl aDirectoryThatDoesNotExist, there is no indication of the error. The shell just prints a new prompt.
  2. Also due to the check that the argument is a directory, we cannot use the default functionality of cd with no argument that returns us to the home directory.

My proposed solution is this:

cd $1 && ls

Here we take advantage of the exit code produced by the cd command to ensure that the directory change was successful before we ls. If cd exits with an error, the boolean “and” is already false, and the ls is not executed. All we see is the error message, and we remain in the same directory. This behavior seems ideal. Additionally, calling cl with no arguments changes to, and lists the home directory as expected.

cl in action

cl in action

This entry was posted in Shell Scripting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Combining cd and ls Into One Command

  1. Levi says:

    How would a person go about implementing this? is this supposed to go in my ~/.bash_profile?

  2. levio says:

    Nevermind… I just read the second paragraph where you mention I can put this in my .bash_profile.

    Thanks for the great article!

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