The pwd Linux Command {in 10 Examples} – phoenixNAP


The pwd Linux command prints the current path of the working directory, starting from the root (/). Use the pwd command to find your way through the structure maze of the Linux file system or to pass the working directory in a Bash script.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the pwd command.



  • system running Linux
  • Terminal window access (Ctrl+Alt+T)
  • A text editor of your choice

pwd Syntax The pwd command takes the following

syntax: pwd


The available options are described in the next section


Output status

The pwd command

has two output states:

  • 0. Success
  • .

  • It is not zero. Failure.

pwd options

Options provide additional functionality to the command. The

pwd command accepts the following options: -L, -logical pwd

$PWD pwd-L-P, –physical-version-help pwd Examples There are several ways to use the pwd command

. The following examples explain common use cases for the pwd command.

Example 1: Get

the working directory path

Running the pwd command without any options generates

the full path to the current working directory.

For example:

The command generates the absolute path of the current working directory. In this case, the path of the home directory.

However, if you followed a symbolic link to the current directory, running pwd prints the location of the symbolic link and not its destination.

In the following example, we create a symbolic link to the current directory. Following the link and executing the pwd command displays the symbolic link in the path: Example 2: Using the -P option The -P option instructs pwd to print the

physical working directory and avoids enumerating symbolic links. Therefore, the command prints the absolute path to the current working directory.

For example


Although a symbolic link was used to change the directory, the pwd command prints only the actual name of the working directory. Example 3: Using

the -L Option The -L option instructs pwd to print the working directory path,

including symbolic links. In the following example, we use a symbolic link to navigate to a directory and run pwd -L: The output shows the path with the symbolic link.

Example 4: Print $PWD variable contents

The environment variable $PWD stores the path of the current directory. Print the contents

of the variable by executing: echo $PWD The command generates the

current working directory, including symbolic links, stored in the

$PWD variable.

Example 5:

Customize the output of

pwd Customize the output of the pwd command by storing its value in a variable and adding a message using the echo command. The following example is a script where the value of pwd

‘s is stored in the $p and includes an output message


Follow the instructions below:

1. Open the terminal and create the script:


2. Add the following lines to the script

: #!/bin/bash p=$(pwd) echo “You are currently at: $p”

3. Save the script and exit vi with the following command: :


4. Change the file permissions to make the script executable:

chmod +x

5. Run

the script: ./ The

script generates the current working directory with a custom message.

Example 6: Check the

pwd version The pwd command

is a built-in shell command (pwd) and an actual binary (/bin/pwd). The shell version may differ from the binary version.

Check which version of pwd is installed by running: /bin/pwd -version

The command generates the binary version of pwd on the system

. Example 7


View previous working directory The $OLDPWD variable stores the path

of the previous working directory

. Check your previous location in the file system by running

: echo “$OLDPWD” The command

generates the previous working directory

. Example

8: View

Help File Use the -help

option to view the help file for the pwd command and the available options: pwd help The result is a short help file

with a list of available options.

Example 9: Using pwd in scripts

In this example, we create a Bash Case statement that uses PWD to generate the current or previous working directory, depending on the option selected. Follow the steps below:

1. Create a script using a text editor such as vi/vim: vi

2. Enter the lines below

: #!/bin/bash echo “I need to see:” echo “1 – My current physical directory path.” echo “2 – My current directory path, including symbolic links.” echo “3 – My previous directory” read directory case $directory in 1) echo “Your current physical location is: $(pwd -P)”;; 2) echo “Your current directory, including symbolic links, is: $(pwd -L)”;; 3) echo “You were previously in: $OLDPWD”;; ESAC

3. Save and exit vi by running: :


4. Make the script executable with chmod: chmod


5. Run the script and choose an option

: ./

For example:

The script uses a case statement to provide three options and prints a corresponding output based on the response

. 6. Change the directory using a symbolic link,

run the script again and compare the outputs:

The output shows the physical location, although we use a symbolic link to change the directory


7. Also try the remaining options to see the result


Example 10: Set up

an alias for pwd

Create an alias that includes the -P option to avoid getting symbolic links when running pwd. That way, pwd always shows the path to the directory you’re in, regardless of how you got there.

In the following example, the alias includes the -P option and we have added it to the .bashrc file so that the system remembers the alias after the system restarts.

alias pwd=’pwd -P’; echo “alias pwd=’pwd -P'” >> ~/.bashrc

The output shows the physical location, although we follow a symbolic link to the current route



This tutorial showed how to use the pwd command on Linux to check your location quickly


If you’re interested in bash, check out our tutorial for bash functions and how to use them. Alternatively, we recommend digging deeper into Linux commands in our list of all important Linux commands in one place.