Using the sh shell (not bash), which command in Linux/UNIX prints out my current directory?

$ *showmewhereiam*

4 Answers 4


Try pwd.

$ pwd
  • 6
    when i first touch linux, i thought it's a command about password and /dev is something about development (source codes or something like that) Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 3:59
  • 2
    Oh, dev means device?! Always thought up until now it just meant dev... I thought dev/null was where linux developers put the special null object. Thanks @LiuYan刘研
    – 1owk3y
    Commented Jun 15, 2016 at 0:04
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    @LiuYan刘研 - I totally agree it's confusing if you don't know. I had to look it up. It stands for "Print Working Directory" for anyone else who's baffled by why they would choose that command for that functionality. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 19:27
  • 1
    @squarecandy, That's why I will avoid using acronyms as possible as I can when grown older and older, even the acronym doesn't have ambiguous meaning at this time -- You never know what meaning it will have in the future. There's a joke said by Jeff Dunham's doll Walter: What happens in D.C. stays on YouTube!, where D.C. means Digital Camera but also means Washington, District of Columbia in the joke. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 6:18

While the general answer is pwd, note that this may give different results depending on how you reached a given directory, and whether the route included symbolic links.

For instance, if you have a directory called real and a symbolic link to that directory called virtual, and you cd to the virtual directory, then pwd will show that virtual directory name, even though the actual directory you are in is real.

To show the real underlying directory, use either pwd -P or readlink -f (for a arbitrary path):

$ mkdir real
$ ln -s real virtual
$ cd virtual
$ pwd
$ pwd -P
$ readlink -f .

Note that shells often replace the pwd command with their own internal version, so on my system (RHEL6), even though the pwd(1) manual page suggests that --physical will work as well as -P, because I'm running bash, it doesn't:

$ pwd --physical
bash: pwd: --: invalid option
pwd: usage: pwd [-LP]
$ /bin/pwd --physical
$ /usr/bin/env pwd --physical
$ pwd

pwd comes from the print working directory.

From Linux man page:


pwd - print name of current/working directory


pwd [OPTION]...


Print the full filename of the current working directory.

-L, --logical

use PWD from environment, even if it contains symlinks

-P, --physical

avoid all symlinks


display this help and exit


output version information and exit

NOTE: your shell may have its own version of pwd, which usually supersedes the version described here. Please refer to your shell's documentation for details about the options it supports.



As others said, pwd usually does the job well enough. However, I'd like to add an idea which has helped me out.

On all shells in common use today, you're able to customize the appearance of the command prompt. I like to customize mine so that it shows me both the name of the computer I'm on and my working directory. That way, I always know where I am. (The computer name part helps me realize if the terminal window I'm using has been used to SSH into a remote server.) For example, when I open a new terminal window on my laptop, which I call Plastico, I see this:

Plastico ~> cd Desktop/
Plastico ~/Desktop> cd ~/Sites/raygunrobot.com
Plastico ~/Sites/raygunrobot.com> cd /usr
Plastico /usr> 

You can see that it's abbreviating my home directory as ~. I find doing this for my terminal prompts is incredibly handy - I always know at a glance exactly where I am, even more so than I would by looking at a Finder window.

On tcsh, I do this by adding set prompt = 'Plastico %~%# ' to my .tcshrc file in my home directory. I've done it on ksh too by adding export PS1="Plastico $PWD $ " to my .profile file. But being a Linux user, you probably use Bash, which I don't have much experience with (I'm a weirdo like that). But it looks like I might be able to do it by adding PS1="Plastico \w $ " to my .bashrc file.

Edit: Just noticed the OP states you're interested in sh, not bash. Oh well; hope folks find this useful regardless.

  • That's a cool idea. Might work well for a simple desktop use case. Seems like it might get unwieldily for for super deep directories if your prompt alone is Plastico /var/www/vhosts/myveryexcellentwebsite.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/myveryexcellenttheme/js/vendor/excellentjs/ > or something like that. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 17:07

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