I have a Mac laptop for work, and while on the terminal (on iterm2), I can start typing a command (e.g. ssh) then press "up" key to browse through my recent commands that begin with whatever I started typing (e.g ssh .......).

On Ubuntu terminal, I can see a similar feature with the keyboard shortcut "CTRL + R". However, it's not quite the same. Is there a way to mimic the Mac feature?

Thank you!

Edit with examples for clarity:

Here's an example of what I mean on the Mac. Let's say in the past 100 commands run in my Mac terminal, I had 2 commands that were:


Then when I type "ssh" and hit "up" key, it would autofill to ssh, and if I hit "up" key again, it would fill to ssh

However, on Ubuntu terminal, if let's say my 3 most recent commands were

open .
echo "help me"

Then by typing "ssh" and hitting "up" key, it would simply take me to echo "help me". And hitting "up" key again would take me to open .

To me it makes more intuitive sense to have this pattern instead of having to use the CTRL+R route.

  • 1
    You should explain what the Mac Features are. Most of us won't know. However, you should try the brilliant fzf, it has an impressive replacement for the standard History search.
    – pLumo
    Nov 5, 2020 at 10:16
  • Thanks @pLumo, I've updated my opening post for clarity. Anyway, fzf looks pretty cool thank you for the suggestion
    – Barry
    Nov 5, 2020 at 10:38
  • I suggest to try the fish shell as replacement for bash. It has many great features out of the box. The one you looking for as well
    – wudu
    Nov 7, 2020 at 6:18

1 Answer 1


Open the $HOME/.inputrc file in a text editor (e.g. gedit ~/.inputrc) and add these two lines:

"\e[A": history-search-backward
"\e[B": history-search-forward

Now, save and close the file and open a new terminal. You know how pressing the up arrow key cycles through the command history? Now with these lines, if you start typing and then press the up arrow key, only commands that started with what you've typed will be shown. Typing ping and then pressing the up arrow key again will show the next to last ping command, and it goes back to the preceding ping command each time you press the up arrow key again. This makes it very easy to find the specific commands you were after.


  1. Type sudo.

  2. Press the up arrow key to autocomplete sudo to the last command that started with sudo.

    sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
  3. Please note that for commands that start with sudo you will be asked to authenticate with your user password as usual before the command can be executed.

  • Wow that's amazing, thank you so much. This does exactly what I want, I really appreciate it @karel
    – Barry
    Nov 13, 2020 at 23:41

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