10 Terminal Commands for the Bootcamper

A coding bootcamp brings in students from a wide variety of education and work experience backgrounds. Many of those students come from a non-technology based background and are unfamiliar with the command-line interface. You can think of the command-line as a way to give your computer instructions to do something by typing in the proper words without having to use a GUI. One of the best things to get comfortable with early in your program is the CLI and how to navigate and provide proper instructions to make the computer do what you want. Check out some below!


Print Working Directory — This allows you to print your current location in your directory. It just lets you know where you are in the file structure.


List — lists out files and folders in your current directory. There are many options to the ls command and my personal favorite is “ls -lah”, which lists the files with detailed contents as well as show file sizes.


History — Forget a command you used recently? Type this is to show a list of all the commands that you’ve used.

cd <path>

Change directory is simple and just moves you to whichever folder you want to get to.

touch <fileName>

Touch command allows you to create a file as well as the extension. Making a Ruby file? Just name it “filename.rb”.

mkdir <directoryName>

Make directory will create a folder with the name of your choosing

cat <fileName>

Concatenate has many uses but the most common one is to allow you to directly output the contents of the file into your terminal window without having to open the file.

vim <fileName>

Vim Editor allows you to edit a file in your terminal window. Vim has an insert mode and a command mode. The insert mode allows you to modify the file and the command mode is where you type specific Vim commands to do things. You’ll want to press “i” to get into insert mode to modify the data and when you’re done, you’ll hit ESC then type in “:wq” to save and exit. If you don’t want to save the changes just type in “:q!” while in command mode. These are the most common uses.

sudo <command>

SuperUser Do command will allow you to execute commands that require elevated permissions.

man <command>

The Manual command shows the manual for the command. Nor sure what vim does? Type in “man vim” and it will show you all available options and an explanation of what they do.

Don’t be afraid of CLI, embrace it!

There are a lot of commands that help make things easier without a mouse. Google them and get comfortable with them.