The clear command can make the next command easier to read (if it outputs less than a page there's no scrolling hence no searching for the beginning). However it also clears the scrollback buffer which you may not always want.

  • See @Guillermo answer below: command > clear -x Feb 19, 2020 at 21:14

7 Answers 7


Just press Ctrl-L on the keyboard.

  • Current behavriou of ctrl-l in cygwin bash erase scrollback as well. Oct 21, 2020 at 8:18
  • It's not working in Windows May 2, 2022 at 14:26


  • CtrlL to scroll the current line to the top. The scrollback is not erased.

  • clear -x to erase the all the lines that are not in the scrollback.

  • clear to erase all the lines, including the scrollback.

CtrlL is a binding of GNU readline library, which, as Bash manual page says, is what handles reading input when using an interactive shell.

clear-screen (C-L) Clear the screen leaving the current line at the top of the screen.

The CtrlL binding can be reassigned in .inputrc.

clear, on the other hand, is an external command.

$ type clear
clear is /usr/bin/clear

From its manual page,

clear clears your screen if this is possible, including its scrollback buffer (if the extended “E3” capability is defined).

-x do not attempt to clear the terminal's scrollback buffer using the extended “E3” capability.

  • Unfortunatelly, current behaviour of a cygwin bash make ctrl-l to erase scrollback as well. Oct 21, 2020 at 8:17

Use tput reset

Thanks to this answer: What commands can I use to reset and clear my terminal?


the clear command does not clear scrollback for me. so clear or ^L works.


In newer versions of clear, it seems that the default behaviour has been changed. To clear the screen and keep scrollback use the option -x. To have the previous behaviour create an alias such as:

alias clear='clear -x'
  • clear -x also works great in non-interactive bash scripts. Mar 29, 2022 at 10:06

If you pipe the output to less, then not only will it clear the screen and show your output at the top, but it will switch back to the previous screen contents when you exit.

  • 1
    Good point, less is powerful. But it's not quite what I'm looking for. If it outputs "less" than a full screen it doesn't start at the top and, as you allude to, it doesn't get added to the scrollback.
    – mcqwerty
    Jul 26, 2011 at 17:52

On MacOs and using vi-mode I added this to my ~/.inputrc:

$if mode=vi

set keymap vi-insert
Control-w: "^[dBxi "
Control-l: 'clear\n'


Then in my bashrc I have this function:

# clear screen and save scrollback
clear() {
    printf "\\033[H\\033[22J"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .