Autojump – An Advanced ‘cd’ Command to Quickly Navigate Linux Filesystem

As a Linux user, you probably find yourself navigating through your file system on a regular basis. Whether you're moving between directories to run commands or searching for specific files, you may have found that using "cd" command can become cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if you have to navigate through multiple directories. Fortunately, there's a solution: Autojump.

What is Autojump?

Autojump is a tool that allows you to quickly and easily navigate through your file system by learning your most frequently used directories. It's an alternative to standard "cd" command, and it's especially useful for users who work with a large number of directories on a regular basis.

How Does Autojump Work?

Autojump works by maintaining a database of directories that you've visited in past. When you want to change to a directory, you simply type "j" followed by a few characters from directory name, and Autojump will take you to directory that matches those characters.

For example, let's say you frequently visit directory /home/user/documents/reports. To navigate to this directory using Autojump, you can simply type "j repo" (assuming there are no other directories in your database that match those characters). Autojump will then take you to reports directory.

Autojump uses a scoring system to determine which directories are best match for characters you've entered. Directories that you've visited more frequently will have a higher score, and directories that are closer to your current directory will also have a higher score. This makes it easy to navigate to directories you use most often.

Installing Autojump

Before you can use Autojump, you'll need to install it on your Linux system. installation process varies depending on your distribution, but it's generally straightforward.

For example, on Ubuntu, you can install Autojump using following command −

sudo apt-get install autojump

Once you've installed Autojump, you'll need to add a line to your bash profile to enable it. Open your bash profile in a text editor (e.g. "nano ~/.bashrc"), and add following line at end of file −

[[ -s /usr/share/autojump/ ]] && . /usr/share/autojump/

Save file, and then restart your terminal or run "source ~/.bashrc" to enable Autojump.

Using Autojump

Once you've installed and enabled Autojump, you can start using it to navigate through your file system. Here are a few examples to get you started −

j directory_name - Navigate to directory that matches specified name
j directory_name/subdirectory - Navigate to a subdirectory of specified directory
j -a directory_name - Add current directory to Autojump's database
j -s - Show current scores for all directories in Autojump's database

Autojump also provides a few aliases that you can use to make navigation even easier −

jc - Clear current directory score in Autojump's database
jo - Open selected directory in default file manager

Customizing Autojump

Autojump comes with a few options that you can customize to suit your needs. For example, you can change number of characters that Autojump uses to match directory names, or you can change weighting of scoring system.

To customize Autojump, you'll need to create a file called ".autojumprc" in your home directory. Here's an example configuration file −

# Match directory names with at least 2 characters

# Prioritize directories that are closer to current directory

In this example, we're telling Autojump to match directory names that have at least 2 characters (the default is 3). We're also giving a higher weight to directories that are closer to current directory (a weight of 10 for directories in same directory, and a weight of 5 for directories in parent directory).

You can customize Autojump in a number of ways, so be sure to check documentation for more information.

Benefits of Using Autojump

Autojump can save you time and increase your productivity when working with a complex directory structure. Here are some benefits of using Autojump −

Save Time

Autojump allows you to navigate file system quickly by using shortcuts. Instead of typing out full path to a directory, you can use a shortcut to navigate to directory in a few keystrokes.

Increase Productivity

By using Autojump, you can focus on your work and not worry about navigating file system. It reduces time you spend typing out directory paths, which can help you focus on task at hand.

Learn Your Habits

Autojump learns directories you use most frequently and assigns them a score. This means that it can adapt to your working habits and provide you with quick access to directories you use most.


Autojump is customizable, and you can configure it to suit your needs. For example, you can create shortcuts for frequently used directories or exclude directories from scoring system.

Limitations of Autojump

While Autojump is a powerful tool, it has some limitations. Here are some limitations of using Autojump −

Learning Curve

Autojump has a learning curve, and it may take some time to get used to command syntax. If you are new to Linux, you may find it challenging to get started with Autojump.

Needs Frequent Usage

Autojump needs frequent usage to work correctly. If you only use a directory occasionally, Autojump may not remember it and assign it a score.

Limited Scope

Autojump is limited to directories within user's home directory. It cannot be used to navigate system-wide directories.

Potential for Error

If shortcuts are not set up correctly, Autojump may take you to wrong directory. You need to be careful when setting up shortcuts and double-check that they point to correct directory.


Autojump is a powerful tool that can save you a lot of time and frustration when navigating through your file system. By learning your most frequently used directories, Autojump makes it easy to jump to directories you need without having to navigate through a complex directory structure.

If you're a Linux user who spends a lot of time working with files and directories, we highly recommend giving Autojump a try. It's easy to install, easy to use, and can make your workflow much more efficient.

Updated on: 31-Mar-2023


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