I know the command for moving up one directory is cd ..

Is there any command to move down one directory?

  • 12
    How is bash supposed to know which subdirectory you want to cd to?
    – edwinksl
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 15:24
  • 4
    Maybe you need cd - , it will take you to previous directory, in case you are trying to revert from cd ..
    – user311189
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 16:12

6 Answers 6


The main difference between moving up a directory, and moving down a directory, in the directory tree is:

  • Moving up - there is only one option, hence the command doesn't need to mention the folder name:

    cd ..

  • Moving down - there might be several sub-directories, hence you first need to choose sub-directory, to change directory down into example-dir the command is:

    cd example-dir

  • Well; .. is the name of the directory. It's just the name of the parent directory, which is present in every directory in the file system. So technically you are naming the directory that you want to move into to cd.
    – user
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 20:31

In older versions of bash (e.g: 4.3) you could do cd * and it would go to the first sub directory it found:

$ ls
dir1/   dir2/   dir3/

$ cd *

Now we are in dir1/.

  • This needs to be the accepted answer.
    – MadmanLee
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:52

The way by which you want to go down by one directory is not possible because there is only one parent directory which is denoted by .., but there can be multiple directories inside a directory and thus you have to mention the one you mean. You have to use cd example to move down by one onto the directory example.

But there is a shortcut: use Tab completion for this. To move down by one into the example directory, you could enter cd e and press Tab and if example is the only directory beginning with e the shell will automatically complete the command to cd example. If there are others beginning with e, double Tab will list matches, and you can type ex or whatever is needed and press Tab again and so on.

  • 1
    And if there's only one subdirectory, TAB will automatically fill it in even if you don't type any letters.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 19:43
  • 3
    Tab won't type the wrong directory. It will only expand to as much is unique, then you have to enter more characters. If you press Tab again it will show all the possible completions.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 19:46
  • @Barmar Yes, you're right. I think Smit is thinking of Windows, which does have that behaviour.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 22:13
  • @Barmar "tab will type wrong directory "mean it will type something other directory with same first chars which OP doesn't want if there are multiple directories.
    – user690429
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 3:39
  • @SMITPATIL As I mentioned above, Bash doesn't do that, but CMD and PowerShell do.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 4:22

You can move up cause because there is one directory but when we talk about going down there can be more than one that is why we have ls we will list all the available directory and then we change directory one down in which we needed to go by the command cd examle1.

$ ls
dir1 dir2 sir3
$ cd dir1
$ cd ..
$ cd dir2

And so on.


This doesn't answer exactly the question that was asked, but as was pointed out by someone else, that question didn't really make sense anyway.

But here is the answer to a nearby question. To go back to the directory from whence you came, use cd -

[mike@gwydion Work]$ cd ..
[mike@gwydion ~]$ cd -
[mike@gwydion Work]$ 

If you want to save a directory for later reference, do some stuff in between in a bunch of other directories, and then go back, use pushd and popd:

[mike@gwydion Work]$ pushd .
~/Work ~/Work
[mike@gwydion Work]$ cd ~/Temp/
[mike@gwydion Temp]$ run some command

[mike@gwydion Temp]$ cd ~/SourceCode/
[mike@gwydion SourceCode]$ run some command
[mike@gwydion SourceCode]$ popd
[mike@gwydion Work]$ popd
bash: popd: directory stack empty
[mike@gwydion Work]$ 

cdd is a small bash script that's a power tool for the cd command. Visit the link below for a one minute video and copy the code below if you like what you see.

cdd - a Change Directory (cd) Power Tool 🔗

It's annoying have to type out long sub-directory names with spaces. So I created a little function in ~/.bashrc that automatically changes down one sub-directory level if there is only one sub-directory. If there is more than one sub-directory then zenity is used to pick one to change to.

cdd () {

    OFS="$IFS"                                  # Save Input File Separator
    # Bash array of directories names
    dirs=( $(find . -maxdepth 1 -type d | grep './' | cut -c 3- | sort) )

    # If no directories exit
    if [ "${#dirs}" -eq 0 ] ; then
        echo "No subdirectories"
        IFS="$OFS"                              # Restore Input File Separator

    # Only one directory then change to it and exit
    if [ "${#dirs[@]}" -eq 1 ] ; then
        cd "${dirs[0]}"
        IFS="$OFS"                              # Restore Input File Separator

    # Zenity to pick one of the directories
    result=$(zenity --list --width=600 --height=400 --title="down" \
             --column="Sub-Directories" "${dirs[@]}" \
             2> >(grep -v 'GtkDialog' >&2))     # Suppress Gtk annoying message
    IFS="$OFS"                                  # Restore Input File Separator
    if [ ! -z "$result" ] ; then                # Did they select an item?
        cd "$result"

Copy above code into your ~/.bashrc file and then open a terminal and type cdd to use it.

If terminal is already open, you can resource your revised ~/.bashrc file with:

source ~/.bashrc


. ~/.bashrc


When you call cdd and there is more than one sub-directory you need to pick one:


In this screen if you click OK button it is equivalent to:

cd Seven\ Mary\ Three


cd "Seven Mary Three"

When you call cdd and there is only one sub-directory it automatically changes to it:

rick@alien:~/Music/Seven Mary Three$ cdd
rick@alien:~/Music/Seven Mary Three/American Standard$ 

When you call cdd and there are no sub-directories an error is displayed:

rick@alien:~/Music/Seven Mary Three/American Standard$ cdd
No subdirectories
rick@alien:~/Music/Seven Mary Three/American Standard$ 

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