This site says that on Linux you can add a space before a terminal command to keep it out of .bash_history.

This does not seem to work for Mac OS X. Does anyone know of a way to execute a single command on the Terminal without saving it to history?

I don't want to clear the history.

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  • adding a ` ` (space) before a terminal command will not keep it out of the history
    – warren
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:20
  • 2
    @warren No, it does. You just have to enable the feature in bash.
    – goweon
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:33
  • @firebat - right: but since it's something you have to enable, it may or may not work everywhere :)
    – warren
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


Add the following line to ~/.bashrc

export HISTCONTROL=ignorespace

Then source ~/.bashrc to refresh the settings

This should enable that feature in bash. If it doesn't work, you might have to add it to ~/.bash_profile instead of ~/.bashrc since OS X loads them a bit differently than linux I think.

  • 2
    export HISTCONTROL=erasedups:ignorespace
    – goweon
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:34
  • 2
    But i think it's actually export HISTCONTROL=ignoredups:ignorespace
    – goweon
    Aug 18, 2011 at 16:35
  • 3
    The "ignoredups" setting ignores repeated lines. Typing "ls" twenty times in a row only ends up with one of them in history. However, typing "ls" and then "ps" and then "ls" again will store "ls" and "ps" every time - unless you have bash 3 and set "erasedups". If that's set, no duplicates get entered in bash history at all. - cyberciti.biz/faq/bash-for-loop-array
    – cwd
    Aug 18, 2011 at 18:39
  • 1
    Adding to .bash_profile works.
    – user51248
    Jun 7, 2013 at 8:36
  • 4
    It seems that .bashrc is not used (OSX 10.13.5) but .bash_profile is.
    – B Seven
    Jul 9, 2018 at 17:24

If you're not concerned about keeping the session active, this may work:

kill -9 $$

It will kill the current session instead of logging-out, which [theoretically] means your history will not be saved.

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