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In the terminal, what should I type to show a list consisting of command items such as these:

  • ls: show direcrtory
  • cd: move to directory

… and so on.

What command can you use to display this list?

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Technically, you don't navigate the terminal, you navigate in a shell that's running inside the terminal. Therefore, you need to look for your shell's built-in commands. The default shell on OS X is Bash. – slhck Aug 5 '12 at 8:49
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you are looking for a complete list of every command on your Linux system, press the TAB key and enter y to the question. All your commands will be gracefully displayed.

If you are looking for help on a particular command, use this syntax: man command-name. Example: man ls will give you the manual for the ls command.

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There are many 'cheat-sheets' and reference pages available online which contain Linux commands and their descriptions - which can be saved and revisited - if you're looking for a list of the main Linux/Unix commands, what they are, etc.

There's also (as mentioned in another answer) the man pages, available online here or in your terminal environment and the O'Reilly Command Directory here.

(Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams' answer relates to viewing commands and their descriptions outside of the actual terminal window, online in a simplified manner and are for reference.)

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You generally don't use any. You use RUTE to learn them, and man to learn about them. And while RUTE is primarily Linux-oriented, 80+% is applicable to OS X.

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The problem with man is that you need to know what the command is called. If you sort of know what you want to do but don't know the command you can use apropos to find it. Though it can be a bit verbose in it's output as it not only lists commands. – Nifle Aug 5 '12 at 7:03

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