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For example, what would it mean to say:

cd ~/mydirectory

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marked as duplicate by Radu Rădeanu, Eric Carvalho, chronitis, Avinash Raj, souravc Feb 7 at 16:40

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

~ is a shortcut for the home directory, so

cd ~/mydirectory 

Will move to mydirectory if there is such a directory in your home folder, otherwise it will throw a directory does not exist error.

Example:

enter image description here

Your home directory is located at /home/<username>.

Trivia: This is why the default bash prompt has a tilde in it like this user@host:~$. The tilde indicates that you are currently in your home directory. If you move somewhere else, for example into /etc it will show user@host:/etc$.

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I've always used $HOME instead, for clarity and because some programs don't expand a tilde. –  minerz029 Feb 6 at 20:59
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It's shorthand for your home directory. For example, my desktop directory is at

 /home/marc/Desktop

or

 ~/Desktop

for short.

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