Bash – Update terminal title by running a second command


On my terminal in Ubuntu, I often run programs which keep running for a long time. And since there are a lot of these programs, I keep forgetting which terminal is for which program, unless I tab through all of those. So I wanted to find a way to update my terminal title to the program name, whenever I run a command. I don’t want to do it manually.

I use gnome-terminal, but answer shouldn’t really depend on that. Basically, If I’m able to run a second command, then I can simply use gconftool command to update the title. So I was hoping to find a way to capture the command in bash and update the title after every command. How do I do that?


I have some answers for you 🙂 You’re right that it shouldn’t matter that you’re using gnome-terminal, but it does matter what command shell you’re using. This is a lot easier in zsh, but in what follows I’m going to assume you’re using bash, and that it’s a fairly recent version (> 3.1).

First of all:

Which environment variable would
contain the current ‘command’?

There is an environment variable which has more-or-less what you want – $BASH_COMMAND. There’s only one small hitch, which is that it will only show you the last command in a pipe. I’m not 100% sure what it will do with combinations of subshells, either 🙂

So I was hoping to find a way to
capture the command in bash and update
the title after every command.

I’ve been thinking about this, and now that I understand what you want to do, I realized the real problem is that you need to update the title before every command. This means that the $PROMPT_COMMAND and $PS1 environment variables are out as possible solutions, since they’re only executed after the command returns.

In bash, the only way I can think of to achieve what you want is to (ab)use the DEBUG SIGNAL. So here’s a solution — stick this at the end of your .bashrc:

trap 'printf "\033]0;%s\007" "${BASH_COMMAND//[^[:print:]]/}"' DEBUG

To get around the problem with pipes, I’ve been messing around with this:

function settitle () {
    printf "\033]0;%s\007" "${BASH_COMMAND//[^[:print:]]/}"
    export PREV_COMMAND=${PREV_COMMAND}' | '


trap 'settitle "$BASH_COMMAND"' DEBUG

but I don’t promise it’s perfect!

Answered By – simon

This Answer collected from stackoverflow, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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