Hide commands from Bash history

There are times where, as part of a command, you may have to type a password on the command line. Unfortunately, all commands normally end up in your Bash history (~/.bash_history) which might not be what you want.

The following example can be used to create a new repository on GitHub from the command line.

$ curl -u user:token https://api.github.com/user/repo -d '{"name":"my-new-repository"}'

token in the example above should be replaced with a personal token that was created on GitHub. This token should not end up in your history file.

To determine what should and should not end up in your Bash history, Bash checks an environment variable called HISTCONTROL. This variable takes a colon-separated list of values. Adding the value ignorespace will prevent commands that start with a space character from being saved to history.

Setting HISTCONTROL is something you would normally do in ~/.bashrc or ~/.bash_profile.

# do not save commands starting with a space in history
export HISTCONTROL=ignorespace

Bonus: to also prevent duplicate commands from being saved in history, use ignoreboth instead of ignorespace.

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