Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How can you quickly get the complete path to a file for use in terminal?

share|improve this question
up vote 21 down vote accepted

Just drag and drop the file in the terminal.

share|improve this answer
I'm putting this here so that I don't forget, let's hope it helps some of you :D – Olivier Lalonde Jan 26 '11 at 19:33
Returns an "smb://" prefixed path for SMB mounted shares instead of the actual mounted path. – Kupiakos Sep 26 '13 at 23:21
@Kupiakos: for me, gnome-terminal happily translates the dropped file path to '/home/alexcohn/.gvfs/…' – Alex Cohn Mar 17 '14 at 15:11
readlink -f

or (install it first)

share|improve this answer

All good answers; Here is a tip for another situation.

If you are browsing your files using nautilus and you want the complete path of your current directory, then press CTRL+L. This changes the breadcrumb buttons temporarily back to the old-style address bar, allowing you to copy the path.

share|improve this answer
… but this is still smb://-style, so it cannot be reused in terminal. – Alex Cohn Mar 17 '14 at 12:36
Interesting; on my system (Ubuntu 13.10) I do not get a smb://-style path. – Sicco Mar 17 '14 at 13:03

In addition to dragging the icon, there are a few ways to get the full path without nautilus (or thunar, konqueror, et al.). You would then triple-click or click-drag and copy, potentially saving this in your clipboard manager*, and paste it where you need.
(pastie, klipper, glippy, glipper, anamnesis)

  • You can use find in a directory above your file. (If you don't know where it is, start where your shell drops you, [generally] in the top of your home directory.)
    find . | egrep filename

  • You can use locate to get the filename. (Run sudo updatedb if that hasn't been done recently.)

A more realistic example of using find would be something like :

$ find | egrep askubuntu | grep txt

To cut out the ones you don't like, e.g.:

find | egrep askubuntu | grep txt | egrep -v iteration
find | egrep askubuntu | grep txt | egrep -v 'iteration|meta|other'

locate is used much the same way, though grep is frequently more necessary:

locate myfile | egrep home | egrep -v 'mozilla|cache|local|bin|\.pyc|test' | grep \.py

This isn't the most efficient way to type this, but usually if I've lost a file, I do this iteratively, adding grep clauses as I go.

share|improve this answer

If it's an executable, then execute (in a terminal):

$ which your_executable

For example: $ which ls

share|improve this answer
This is the answer i was looking for – monotheist Jun 15 '15 at 19:18

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.