Consider the following bash command line, where ^ denotes the cursor location:

svn commit -m very/long/path/to/some/file "[bug 123456] Fix the pixel issue"

I'd like to commit a different file with the same message. How can I delete the current word, from cursor location to the next space? Is there also a shortcut for backward deletion, form the cursor to the first space backwards?

Update: ctrl+w erases backwards, but which shortcut erases one word forward?

  • 2
    Ctrl u is an option for erasing from cursor location to beginning... Apr 8, 2013 at 15:23
  • 29
    Try alt + d, that might be useful, when emacs editing mode is set.
    – user76204
    Apr 8, 2013 at 16:20
  • @Mik how do you enable emacs mode?
    – Adam Matan
    Apr 9, 2013 at 9:00
  • @AdamMatan set -o emacs enables it, but it is usually the default; if not, you can put that line in .bashrc or .bash_aliases, then source the file or reload the terminal. However, then the shortcuts you may be used to in vi mode won't be available, although ones such as ctrl+c will because they are not Bash shortcuts.
    – user76204
    Apr 9, 2013 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


I answered similar question on unix.stackexchange.com:

Bash has readline commands that aren't bound by default. You can find them at reference: http://www.gnu.org/software/bash/manual/html_node/Bindable-Readline-Commands.html#Bindable-Readline-Commands

Command you are looking for is called "shell-backward-kill-word". You have to select shortcut first. Let's use Crtl+p, since it's "previous command" - same as up arrow.

bind '"\C-p": shell-backward-kill-word'

The only difference is you have to use "shell-kill-word" command instead, since you want to delete forward.

There is also a "kill-word" command with Meta+d shortcut (try Esc+d if you don't have Meta key). It will delete only one part of path at once.

  • 37
    Alt-d works for me
    – ricab
    Jan 20, 2015 at 14:24
  • 9
    Generally, in the world of keyboards where Meta doesn't exist, Alt = Meta.
    – Nate C-K
    Mar 20, 2015 at 3:49
  • I the world where you have many different keyboards, a convenient and fairly useful fact is that Esc as a prefix also acts as Meta.
    – tripleee
    Nov 30, 2015 at 18:03
  • 1
    In short, add e.g. this to your $HOME/.inputrc file:"\ew": shell-kill-word , that will make Alt-w forward delete a word , much like CTRL-w backwards deletes a word (and unlike Alt-d which will forward delete but stop at e.g. a / or - and other characters)
    – user964970
    Jul 6, 2017 at 10:17
  • @NateC-K "in the world of keyboards where Meta doesn't exist": which today is, more or less, the world? Aug 9, 2020 at 12:48

Tested both the esc+d and alt/opt+d on OSX Mavericks and they work there as well.

  • 18
    Option + d gives me ∂ on OSX Apr 16, 2016 at 7:35
  • 4
    -1 OSX is not Ubuntu. Feel free to add a comment, but this is not an answer.
    – wjandrea
    Sep 24, 2016 at 16:37
  • you have to first enable the checkbox "use option as meta key" in the terminal preferences (profiles -> keyboard tab -> checkbox) Apr 23, 2018 at 16:15
  • control + d on mac Sierra
    – mfink
    Aug 9, 2018 at 17:42
  • 4
    @IvanBalashov if you are using iterm set your let opt key as esc+ . Under Profiles >keys
    – tessie
    Nov 27, 2018 at 13:09

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