z - Man Page

jump around

Examples (TL;DR)


z [-chlrtx] [regex1 regex2 ... regexn]


bash, zsh


Tracks your most used directories, based on 'frecency'.

After a short learning phase, z will take you to the most 'frecent' directory that matches ALL of the regexes given on the command line, in order.

For example, z foo bar would match /foo/bar but not /bar/foo.



restrict matches to subdirectories of the current directory


echo the best match, don't cd


show a brief help message


list only


match by rank only


match by recent access only


remove the current directory from the datafile


z foo

cd to most frecent dir matching foo

z foo bar

cd to most frecent dir matching foo, then bar

z -r foo

cd to highest ranked dir matching foo

z -t foo

cd to most recently accessed dir matching foo

z -l foo

list all dirs matching foo (by frecency)



Put something like this in your $HOME/.bashrc or $HOME/.zshrc:

. /path/to/z.sh

cd around for a while to build up the db.



Set $_Z_CMD to change the command name (default z).
Set $_Z_DATA to change the datafile (default $HOME/.z).
Set $_Z_MAX_SCORE lower to age entries out faster (default 9000).
Set $_Z_NO_RESOLVE_SYMLINKS to prevent symlink resolution.
Set $_Z_NO_PROMPT_COMMAND to handle PROMPT_COMMAND/precmd yourself.
Set $_Z_EXCLUDE_DIRS to an array of directory trees to exclude.
Set $_Z_OWNER to allow usage when in 'sudo -s' mode.
(These settings should go in .bashrc/.zshrc before the line added above.)
Install the provided man page z.1 somewhere in your MANPATH, like /usr/local/man/man1.


The rank of directories maintained by z undergoes aging based on a simple formula. The rank of each entry is incremented every time it is accessed. When the sum of ranks is over 9000, all ranks are multiplied by 0.99. Entries with a rank lower than 1 are forgotten.


Frecency is a portmanteau of 'recent' and 'frequency'. It is a weighted rank that depends on how often and how recently something occurred. As far as I know, Mozilla came up with the term.

To z, a directory that has low ranking but has been accessed recently will quickly have higher rank than a directory accessed frequently a long time ago.

Frecency is determined at runtime.


When multiple directories match all queries, and they all have a common prefix, z will cd to the shortest matching directory, without regard to priority. This has been in effect, if undocumented, for quite some time, but should probably be configurable or reconsidered.

Tab Completion

z supports tab completion. After any number of arguments, press TAB to complete on directories that match each argument. Due to limitations of the completion implementations, only the last argument will be completed in the shell.

Internally, z decides you've requested a completion if the last argument passed is an absolute path to an existing directory. This may cause unexpected behavior if the last argument to z begins with /.


A function _z() is defined.

The contents of the variable $_Z_CMD is aliased to _z 2>&1. If not set, $_Z_CMD defaults to z.

The environment variable $_Z_DATA can be used to control the datafile location. If it is not defined, the location defaults to $HOME/.z.

The environment variable $_Z_NO_RESOLVE_SYMLINKS can be set to prevent resolving of symlinks. If it is not set, symbolic links will be resolved when added to the datafile.

In bash, z appends a command to the PROMPT_COMMAND environment variable to maintain its database. In zsh, z appends a function _z_precmd to the precmd_functions array.

The environment variable $_Z_NO_PROMPT_COMMAND can be set if you want to handle PROMPT_COMMAND or precmd yourself.

The environment variable $_Z_EXCLUDE_DIRS can be set to an array of directory trees to exclude from tracking. $HOME is always excluded. Directories must be full paths without trailing slashes.

The environment variable $_Z_OWNER can be set to your username, to allow usage of z when your sudo environment keeps $HOME set.


Data is stored in $HOME/.z. This can be overridden by setting the $_Z_DATA environment variable. When initialized, z will raise an error if this path is a directory, and not function correctly.

A man page (z.1) is provided.

See Also

regex(7), pushd, popd, autojump, cdargs

Please file bugs at https://github.com/rupa/z/


January 2013