Currently it is:


Outside of renaming my machine and directory structure...

How could I make it be something more like:

up vote 211 down vote accepted

To change it for the current terminal instance only

Just enter PS1='\u:\W\$ ' and press enter.

To change it "permanently"

In your ~/.bashrc, find the following section:

if [ "$color_prompt" = yes ]; then
    PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '
    PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ '

Remove the @\h, and replace the \w with an uppercase \W, so that it becomes:

if [ "$color_prompt" = yes ]; then
    PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\W\[\033[00m\]\$ '
    PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u:\W\$ '

Save, exit, close terminal and start another to see the result.

Tons more options!

  • See here for a more extensive howto, with many more options
  • See this answer for using up a tiny Python script to set the prompt so that the shortening only occurs when you are deep in a directory structure.
  • 1
    You can also have a lot of information... and then a carriage return at the end as in – Michael Durrant May 23 '14 at 22:18
  • Is there a way to make this global? In other words, if I sudo to another user, have this setting carry over, but only for myself (i.e., not for the user when they normally use their account)? – ctote May 14 '15 at 16:20
  • In order to have a shared .bashrc that works on both Linux and OSX I've since switched to – Michael Durrant May 19 '15 at 12:40
  • i.e. HOST='\033[02;36m\]\h' HOST=' '$HOST parse_git_branch () { git branch 2> /dev/null | sed -e '/^[^*]/d' -e 's/* \(.*\)/\1/'; } TIME='\033[01;31m\]\t \033[01;32m\]' LOCATION=' \033[01;34m\]pwd | sed "s#(/[^/]\{1,\}/[^/]\{1,\}/[^/]\{1,\}/).*(/[^/]\{1,\}/[^/]\{1,\})/\{0,1\}#\1_\2#g"' BRANCH=' \033[00;33m\]$(parse_git_branch)\[\033[00m\]\n\$ ' PS1=$TIME$USER$HOST$LOCATION$BRANCH PS2='\[\033[01;36m\]>' – Michael Durrant May 19 '15 at 12:44
  • but see the answer for actual code to use. – Michael Durrant May 19 '15 at 12:44

Run this code in the current terminal


Now the bash prompt will show only the last 3 directory names. You can choose 1 to show only current directory. More information is available in the GNU documentation.

The effect:

/var/lib/apt/lists# PROMPT_DIRTRIM=3

If you want to make it permanently, add the following line to ~/.bashrc in the beginning:


or another number greater than zero.

  • 7
    Just a sidenote: This requires Bash 4. – Stefan Lasiewski Jun 18 '14 at 0:12
  • Nice... I added a bach_alias for this (with a function) promptdir() { PROMPT_DIRTRIM=$1; } just to make live easier... – dgoosens 12 hours ago

This is my preferred prompt setting:

added in ~/.bashrc

PS1='[\u@\h \W]\$ '    

it looks like this:

[user@hostname dirname]$

(with a space after the $ sign)

  • How would I add a space between each word? Also, can I color it? – Dani Springer May 6 '17 at 21:36

Personally I prefer to see only current folder in the bash prompt. I can do this with the following command:

PS1='\W\$ '

If you want it to take effect after each start then add the above command into your ~/.bashrc.

I realize this is super old but since nobody suggested creating an alias I figured I'd post. Using Bash Prompt Escape Sequences I made an alias shorten

In ~/.bash_aliases here you will notice the $Blue var to set the prompt colour which you can omit or change based on preference I also clear the terminal when calling shorten.

alias c='clear'

alias shorten='PS1="$Blue$USER:\W$ "&& c'

To achieve the OP's desired prompt string:

alias shorten='PS1="$USER:\W$ "'

I have colours defined in ~/.bashrccopy and pasted from On a side note what's with ansi code colours? I'm confused just looking at it.

Blue='\e[0;34m'         # Blue
  • A step by step guide for this would be so useful as I have no idea how to get to .bash_aliases. Thanks – Kayote Feb 2 '16 at 10:26
  • 2
    "." prefix indicates a hidden directory or file. The tilde "~" is short form of $HOME variable. So, "~/.bash_aliases" is just short form of "/home/$USER/.bash_aliases". To open ".bash_aliases" you can either open a terminal and type "gedit /home/$USER/.bash_aliases" or "gedit ~/.bash_aliases" or in your home directory type ctrl-h to show hidden files and open file directly. Hope that helps. You may want to do a Google search for useful aliases as well. – Allie Carver Feb 3 '16 at 17:46

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