A bash profile is a file used to store environment settings for your terminal, and it’s accessible by the name ~/.bash_profile.

When a session starts, it loads the contents of the bash profile before executing commands.

  • The ~ represents the user’s home directory.
  • The . indicates a hidden file.
  • The name ~/.bash_profile is important, since this is how the command line recognizes the bash profile.

To open and edit the bash profile, you can use the command:

nano ~/.bash_profile

When you edit the bash profile, you can add commands to execute every time a new terminal session is started.

For example, if you have an echo statement in the bash profile, that will echo when a terminal session begins.

To activate the changes made in ~/.bash_profile for the current session, use this following command:

source ~/.bash_profile

This makes the changes in the bash profile available right away without closing the terminal and needing to start a new session.



Let’s edit the environment settings!

In the terminal, type

nano ~/.bash_profile

This opens up the existing, currently blank bash profile file in nano.


In ~/.bash_profile, at the top of the file, type:

echo "Welcome, Jane Doe"

You can use your name in place of “Jane Doe.”

Type Ctrl + O to save the file.

Press Enter to write the filename.

Type Ctrl + X to exit nano.

Then, once you’ve exited nano and are back in the terminal, press the Enter (or return for Mac) key onto a new line.


Finally, to see this greeting immediately, use:

source ~/.bash_profile

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