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I cannot use cd anymore when using it in a bash script

[~/Downloads] # cat cd-backward
cd ..

[~/Downloads] # ./cd-backward
[~/Downloads] #

I should move to ~ at the last line.

cd works perfectly in terminal strangely. Nothing happens also when I run bash -c 'cd Download for instance.

marked as duplicate by muru, Zanna, David Foerster, Kevin Bowen, TheWanderer Oct 26 '16 at 1:09

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  • it works. in the script it goes to ~. then exit back to where it was before i.e. ~/Downloads. – solsTiCe Oct 3 '16 at 17:41

Every script is executed in its own subshell, that is a separate process that cannot modify its parent working directory. The only way to change a working directory using a script written to a file is sourcing it using . or source (they are equivalent) like this:

$ . cd-backward


$ source cd-backward

Note that in such case you don't even need shebang (#!/bin/bash) at the top of your script.


When you launch a script, it runs in its own shell, as Arkadiusz already mentioned. In this case, you have instance of bash. You can see it if you modify the script:

cd ..

Sample run on my system gives :

bash-4.3$ pwd
bash-4.3$ ./cd-backward 
bash-4.3$ pwd

Appropriately enough, within the script subshell, you navigate to home directory. Parent shell's current working directory however remains unchanged


Your process (called $$) has a "Current directory", ~/Downloads.

When you ./cd-backward, that Bash script is run in its own process, which has its own "Current Directory", which starts off as ~/Downloads.

The cd .. affects the "Current Directory" of the ./cd-backward process, changing it to ~, but NOT affecting the "Current Directory" of your original process.

./cd-backward finishes, its process exits, and the cd .. is forgotten about.

Here are two ways I affect my own "Current Directory", kept in my '~/.bashrc`:

First, a couple of aliases:

alias ..='cd ..'
alias ...='cd .. ; cd ..'

Here's how I keep my current directory in my Window title (through intercepting cd):

# from the "xttitle(1)" man page - put info in window title
    [[ $TERM = xterm ]] || [[ $TERM = xterm-color ]]  && xttitle "[$$] ${USER}@${HOSTNAME}:$PWD"

    [[ -z "$*" ]] && builtin cd $HOME
    [[ -n "$*" ]] && builtin cd "$*"

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