How to create a custom alias on Linux

Endrit Qerreti

Endrit Qerreti

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a custom alias on Linux. But before we start with the tutorial, let's learn first what alias is on Linux.

Alias basically is like a shortcut that allows you to set a custom word let's say for an x command that has more than 2 words, for example, the update command is sudo apt update what alias can do is that allows us to execute this command by typing only a custom word in this case update, so when the execute the word update the alias will execute sudo apt update

To create a custom alias on your system, follow the steps below

Step 1 - Create your alias

Aliases are located in the bashrc, this file is the file that contains all the configurations for your users shell.

To create the alias open ~/.bashrc with a text editor

sudo nano ~/.bashrc

Next, you should see this screen, this means the bashrc file has been opened with the text editor you specified on the command above

Alias syntax that you need to use

alias custom-word='custom-command'

In this case, custom-word is the shortcut command you are going to run and custom-command is the command which this shortcut will call. For example, we created an alias for the sudo apt update command, and the alias looks like this

alias update='sudo apt update'

Next, simply write the line above into the bashrc file, and the file should look like this

Make sure the alias you added is not commented, next save changes you made on the bashrc file by pressing CTRL + X and then press Y.

Note: You can also create the alias here ~/.bash_aliases instead of creating them on the main bashrc file if you are using a debian based system.

If you haven't created an alias before, or if you did you created them only in the bashrc file, then bash_aliases will be empty when you open it. The procedure of creating aliases in this file is same as bashrc file.  

If the alias command doesn't work when you add it on ~/.bash_aliases make sure to check the main ~/.bashrc if it's loading ~/.bash_aliases

This part of code checks if bash_aliases exists and runs it. If you can't find this code on bashrc file, then simply add it

if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
    . ~/.bash_aliases

Step 2 - Save the alias

By default alias becomes active once you login on your system, if you want to use this alias without logging out of your system, then you can use the source command, source command executes the changes you made on the bashrc file in the current shell

source ~/.bashrc

Step 3 - Run your alias

Now, you can run your alias on your terminal. For example, the alias that we created is called update so whenever you run update it should update the system

If the alias doesn't work, check the ~/.bashrc file again and make sure you are using the correct alias syntax as we showed on the example above.  If the syntax looks correct, then you may need to run the source command again source ~/.bashrc run this command as is without spaces or any other character and the alias should work.


In this tutorial, you learned how to create an alias and what alias command does on Linux.

If you don't feel comfortable or familiar when running long command in your terminal, then using alias commands can help you.