cd (Change Directory) Command in Linux with Examples

The Linux command line interface is a potent tool that offers immense power and flexibility to its users. This article explores one of the most fundamental and frequently used commands – the “cd” or “change directory” command. From navigating file systems to managing files and directories, the cd command in Linux is an essential tool for all Linux users, irrespective of their proficiency level.

Linux CD Command Syntax

The syntax for the cd command in Linux is quite straightforward, which makes it an accessible and highly utilized command. However, to utilize it effectively, it’s essential to understand its structure.

The general syntax of the cd command is:

cd [options] [directory]

Here’s a breakdown of this syntax:

  • cd: This is the command itself, short for “change directory”.
  • [options]: These are optional flags or arguments that modify the behavior of the cd command. For instance, the -P option tells cd to not follow symbolic links, which can be helpful for system administrators. Remember that these are optional and should be included only if necessary.
  • [directory]: This is the destination where you want to navigate. This could be an absolute path (starting from the root directory) or a relative path (from the current directory). If no directory is specified, cd will default to the user’s home directory.

Remember that both the [options] and [directory] components are optional, meaning you could use the cd command by itself to navigate to your home directory.

How to Use Linux CD Command

In this section, we delve deeper into various usage scenarios of the cd command, each accompanied by a comprehensive breakdown for better understanding.

Transitioning to a Different Directory in Linux

To change your current working directory, use the “cd” command followed by the name of the directory you wish to access. This applies if the directory is within your current working directory.

cd target_directory

This command translates to “change directory to target_directory.” Replace “target_directory” with the actual directory name you wish to access.

Switching Directory and Listing Contents in Linux

If you wish to change your directory and simultaneously list its contents, you can link the “cd” command with the “ls” command. This combination enables immediate viewing of the directory content after transition.

cd target_directory && ls

Here, the command “cd target_directory” navigates to your desired directory, and “ls” lists the contents of the new directory.

Navigating with an Absolute Path Using CD Command

An absolute path starts with the root directory and includes the complete directory path. To use the cd command with an absolute path, use the following syntax:

cd /path/to/directory

In this command, “/path/to/directory” is the absolute path. Replace this with the exact path of your desired directory, starting from the root directory.

Navigating with a Relative Path Using CD Command

Relative paths are based on your current directory. You can use the cd command to navigate to a subdirectory within your current directory.

cd relative_path_to_directory

In this scenario, “relative_path_to_directory” is the path of the directory relative to your current location. Substitute this with the actual relative path.

Returning to the Last Visited Directory in Linux

The cd command has a handy shortcut to navigate back to the last directory you visited. To do so, use the “-” option:

cd -

This command takes you back to the previous directory, offering an efficient way to toggle between two directories.

Shifting to the Parent Directory Using CD Command

To move to the parent directory of your current location, use the “..” symbol with the cd command:

cd ..

This command translates to “change directory to the parent directory.” It can be particularly useful when working in nested directories.

Accessing the Root Directory Using CD Command

The root directory is the top-level directory in the Linux filesystem. To navigate to this directory, use the following command:

cd /

This command changes your current directory to the root directory, enabling you to start navigation from the top level of the filesystem.

Returning to the Home Directory in Linux

The home directory is the default directory associated with a user. To navigate back to this directory, either type “cd” without any arguments or use the “~” symbol:



cd ~

Both commands will take you back to your home directory, offering a quick way to reset your navigation.

Accessing Another User’s Home Directory Using CD Command

To navigate to another user’s home directory, use the “~” symbol followed by the username:

cd ~username

This command translates to “change directory to the home directory of ‘username’.” Replace “username” with the actual user’s name.

Navigating to a Directory with Spaces in its Name in Linux

If the directory name contains spaces, you can still access it by enclosing the name within quotes:

cd "directory with spaces"

This command directs the shell to consider the entire quoted string, including spaces, as a single argument.

Utilizing Autocomplete for Directory Name in Linux

In Linux, you can autocomplete directory names. Begin typing the directory name, then press the “Tab” key to autocomplete:

cd part_of_directory_name<Tab>

The autocomplete feature speeds up your typing and reduces errors, enhancing your command line efficiency.

Changing to a Subdirectory within a Subdirectory

For navigating to a subdirectory within a subdirectory, you can use the cd command with both directory names, separated by a slash:

cd directory/subdirectory

This command changes the current directory to the specified subdirectory, within the stated directory. Replace “directory/subdirectory” with your target subdirectory path.


Understanding and effectively utilizing the “cd” command is crucial to navigate and manipulate the Linux file system efficiently. Mastering the simple yet powerful “cd” command can streamline your work, increase your productivity, and enhance your command-line proficiency. With a variety of options to tailor the command to your needs, the “cd” command is truly an essential tool in the Linux user’s toolkit.