I receive from the user a certain absolute filepath, and I want to create a variable that will be a string that won't include only the FIRST two components of the file path, but without printing it or anything.

For example, the absolute path could be:


And it's saved in "target_path", and I want "mydir" to be only:


I tried using the cut command in different ways but without success.

  • Is /home/username the actual $HOME directory of the invoking user? if so you could remove it simply using mydir="${target_path#$HOME}" I think Nov 10, 2016 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


Using bash's string manipulation:

$ a=/home/myusername/folder1/folder2/folder3
$ echo "${a#/*/*/}"

So, the string you want would be (adding back the leading slash):


For a variable a, ${a#foo} will remove the shortest string matching foo from the start of a. So, we remove the shortest string containing three / (including the leading slash in the path), to remove the first two components of the absolute path.

  • The path might be 30 folders, and I only want to include the last 28. Will this still work?
    – Life of pi
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:15
  • @Lifeofpi why not?
    – muru
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:16

Here is an example using cut

echo "/home/myusername/folder1/folder2/folder3" | cut -d '/' -f4- 


If you need the leading / you could append | sed 's/^/\//' to the end of your line.

You need -f4- because -d '/' tells cut to use / as a delimiter between fields. So the first field comes before the first delimiter, in this case the first field is empty. So folder1 is the 4th field and -f4- tells cut to use all fields from the 4th onwards.


You can use bash parameter expansion like so:


After this:

echo $myvar



It works by removing the first match of the pattern /*/*/ from your target_path variable, by using the ${target_path#pattern} shell parameter expansion syntax. Unfortunately this removes the first / character, which is why that character must be explicitly included while setting the myvar variable.

Warning: You should check that your target_path variable contains some characters, and is longer than two path segments before using this method. For instance if target_path=/home/username/, then myvar=/. This could be dangerous to your system if you're running something like rm -rf "$myvar"*. Don't try this!

  • The path might be 30 folders, and I only want to include the last 28. Will this still work?
    – Life of pi
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:16
  • Definitely, this will only trim the first two, no matter what length the path is.
    – Arronical
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:18

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