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When I want to navigate into directories having special characters in their names I get an error message.

For example:

aman@desktop:~/Aman$ cd !)e$!gn&(reate
bash: !: event not found

Here !)e$!gn&(reate is the directory name where I want to navigate.

How to rectify this error?

How to use cd command to navigate directories in Ubuntu having directory name with special characters?

marked as duplicate by Radu Rădeanu, Avinash Raj, Braiam, jobin, Aditya Apr 24 '14 at 10:36

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  • 1
    You can turn off history expansion: set +H -- turn it back on with set -H – glenn jackman Apr 23 '14 at 16:24

That error is happening because the ! (bang) is a shortcut that allows you re-run a command from your history. Ex: This command re-runs command #1504 from my history.

$ !1504

To avoid that issue, try encapsulating your directory name with single quotes.

$ cd '!)e$!gn&(reate'

That being said, while Ubuntu (Linux) will let you name directories in this way, I would highly recommend against it. Using special characters in directory names can make them difficult to read, and if you are using a reserved character you will always need to escape it or encapsulate the directory name in quotes.

  • 1
    +1 especially for the last paragraph... and if they can avoid spaces too, will be grateful in the future. Just MHO. – Rmano Apr 23 '14 at 16:41
  • @Rmano Yes, I'm with you on that. Spaces in directory/file names drive me crazy. – Aaron Apr 23 '14 at 16:54
  • 2
    set +H or set +o histexpand to disable the special treatment of !. Add that to your ~/.bash_profile or even some system-wide config file and you'll have one less thing to worry about. Unless you are actually using this feature, that is. – MvG Apr 23 '14 at 22:28
  • I'm not sure what this is called, but I call it "passing the file name as a string" since that is what it would be called in programming. – JFA Apr 24 '14 at 1:02

You use \ before special characters

cd \!\)e\$\!gn\&\(reate

You can also put entire foldername in single quotes

cd '!)e$!gn&(reate'

You can encapsulate entire path within single quotes

cd 'Desktop/!)e$!gn&(reate'

if you want to refer a path inside /home/username directory: just add ~/ before path in single quotes

cd ~/'Desktop/!)e$!gn&(reate'

Interactively, type cd ! then hit Tab and bash will fill in the rest, properly escaped.

  • Will that work even if the first character is a special character, or will you have to type cd \! then TAB? – IQAndreas Apr 24 '14 at 4:19
  • works for me without escaping. – glenn jackman Apr 24 '14 at 10:28

Not sure if this applies to special characters, but perhaps put the path inside double quotes?

  • 2
    Double quotes will help with special characters like spaces that aren't interpolated, but won't help with $, ! and the like, which are interpolated. There are two types of strings in bash: double quotes, which allow for interpolation, and single quotes, which don't. (This is why you should always put your regex for grep, sed, etc. in single quotes.) – Livius Apr 23 '14 at 22:03

Confirming @glenn jackman's answer works in practise, I typed cd ! and then pressed [tab]

ianh@abe:~/tmp$ mkdir '!)e$!gn&(reate' ianh@abe:~/tmp$ cd \!\)e\$\!gn\&\(reate/ ianh@abe:~/tmp/!)e$!gn&(reate$

Even making a directory with '!1997' and typing cd !1 and then pressing [tab] worked.

ianh@abe:~/tmp/!)e$!gn&(reate$ mkdir '!1997' ianh@abe:~/tmp/!)e$!gn&(reate$ cd \!1997/ ianh@abe:.../!)e$!gn&(reate/!1997$

(i dont have enough rep points to add it as a comment)

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