Sachin Patil


Free software developer & Emacser

Find bash function

In this post I’ll walk you through few commands which will help to find the location & definition of Bash functions.

I have lot of custom Bash functions for every seldom and frequent tasks. Usually I like to store these functions in ~/.bashrc file but when they grow in size and importance, I like to keep it in a separate Bash script and source this script from ~/.bashrc. As these Bash scripts goes on increasing and so does the functions, it becomes tedious to locate these functions.

Unlike which command, which is used to find a program file location, we can’t use it to find Bash function location. But there is a way we can read the function definition and also find its location.

Read function definition

type can be used to read function definition.


For example, I have a function called mcd to create new directory and cd in to it. The following command will print the function definition

type -a mcd


# mcd is a function
mcd () {
    if [ "$#" -eq 1 ]; then
        mkdir --parents "$1";
        cd "$1";
        echo "Usage: mcd <DIR_NAME>" > /dev/stderr;

Update (2016-04-06 Wed)

I you enable shell debug ON USING set -e, you can still read a function definition.

set -e
which mcd

Find function location in a file

In the similar way declare can be used to locate the function.

To locate the function, turn on shell debugging using

shopt -s extdebug

and then

declare -F <FUNCTION-NAME>

For example, to find mcd’s location, type

declare -F mcd


mcd 51 /home/sachin/.bashrc

51 is the line number in file ~/.bashrc where mcd is defined.

Finally turn off shell debugging.

shopt -u extdebug

Custom function

Its better to write a custom function(whichf in this case) using above commands.

function whichf () {
    if [ ${1} ]; then
        shopt -s extdebug
        declare -F ${1}
        shopt -u extdebug
        type -a ${1}
        echo "Error: Expected Function name as an argument!"

Copy above function in ~/.bashrc file and source the file using

source ~/.bashrc

Now call this function by typing


For example

whichf mcd