I have this on the command line:

ln -sf $PWD/wine-

and then I hit Tab to complete the filename. In earlier versions of Ubuntu, this worked just fine to complete the wine- filename (and as a side-effect $PWD would be expanded at that time). But now it turns it in to

ln -sf \$PWD/wine-

which isn't what I meant at all and doesn't complete anything as the file does not literally start with $.

How do I get completion back to the less broken behaviour?

set tells me these are my current settings:


I've found that bash versions >= 4.2.29 have a new direxpand shopt setting. (See man docs/bash.1 if you check out a new bash, or see bash.1 from line 8951)

If one uses Quantal Quetzal 12.10 or otherwise gets hold of (or checks out and builds) a new bash, then:

shopt -s direxpand

Gives me the behavior I want, need and love.

Workaround: In the meantime, Ctrl+Alt+E instead of Tab does what I want too. But is awkward.

BTW, There are several threads called "bash tab variable expansion question?" in gnu.bash.bug. From reading them, I found the info here.

  • 2
    a version of bash with direxpand is making its way into Precise (12.04): See bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/778627 – keturn Mar 31 '13 at 19:48
  • 7
    Would be even better if I didn't have my huge path expanded and could continue using an un-escaped variable with completion. – jozxyqk Aug 28 '14 at 6:17
  • @jozxyqk Did you ever find a way to get that no-path-expansion feature? – Ungeheuer Apr 8 at 16:40
  • @Ungeheuer I'm currently using bash 4.4.19 on Ubuntu 18.04 and it just works. Not sure when this changed. – jozxyqk Apr 26 at 22:12

search _filedir() in the top level bash_completion script and change the line

compopt -o filenames 2>/dev/null


compopt -o filenames -o noquote 2>/dev/null
  • In 12.04 GNU bash, version 4.2.25 this suggestion gives the error: compopt: noquote: invalid option name – arielf Nov 14 '15 at 0:28

For those (like me) with 12.04 can use ~+ instead of $PWD...

for example :

cd /bin
echo ~+/ls

Even with the updated bash, I was finding $ still gets escaped.

  • Removing the bash-completion (1:2.1-3.fc20) package
  • or simply not sourcing /etc/bashrc from ~/.bashrc seemed to fix it.

I suspect I'll now be missing some features I'm normally used to but haven't noticed any yet.

Alternative (at least for Fedora 26), add export BASH_COMPLETION_VERSINFO=0 before sourcing /etc/bashrc. This makes the problematic script think its already been sourced.


I encountered the same problem with Bash in Cygwin. I fixed my problem by setting the following option.

shopt -s cdable_vars



Disabling the shell option 'complete_fullquote' does the job:

shopt -u complete_fullquote
  • $ shopt -u complete_fullquote -bash: shopt: complete_fullquote: invalid shell option name – Anton Gorev Sep 5 at 20:34
shopt -u progcomp

This fixed it for me, it also removed a lot of "intelligent" completion options which I have found get in the way by not completing files that I know are there because the stupid thing thinks I don't want them as arguments to a particular command. ARRRGH

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