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which, whence

© November 2003 Tony Lawrence

Search PATH for a program:

$ which ls
The original Bourne shell (sh) had no command like which. The csh introduced "which". Ksh uses "whence", and bash etc. will use "which".

If the thing being searched for is a shell builtin like "cd", "which" and "whence" won't find it, but how that is reported can be very different:

( ksh on SCO OSR5 )
$ whence cd
( bash on Mac OS X)
$ which cd
no cd in /bin /sbin /usr/bin /usr/sbin /Users/apl/bin /usr/local/bin /Developer/Tools
( tcsh on Mac OS X)
% which cd
cd: shell built-in command.

You may also have a "whereis" command, though this usually only searches the "standard" directories: it probably won't look anywhere you might have added to your PATH.

On OSR5 and some other POSIX compliant platforms, /bin/cd and other common shell builtins exist, so you must call the actual binary if that's what you need.

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Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

iOS 8: A Take Control Crash Course

Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal, Second Edition

Take Control of iCloud

Digital Sharing Crash Course

Take Control of Numbers

More Articles by © Tony Lawrence

On OSR5, whence can be given multiple args:

$ whence ls getty marry



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