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

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5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Just drag and drop the file in the terminal.

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1  
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 at 15:11
readlink -f foo.bar

or (install it first)

realpath foo.bar
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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.

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… but this is still smb://-style, so it cannot be reused in terminal. –  Alex Cohn Mar 17 at 12:36
    
Interesting; on my system (Ubuntu 13.10) I do not get a smb://-style path. –  Sicco Mar 17 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
./askubuntu-temp.txt
./drDocuments/web/meta.askubuntu.txt
./other/stuff/askubuntu.txt.iteration.1
./other/stuff/askubuntu.txt.iteration.2
[...]

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.

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

which your_executable

For example: which ls

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