Helping your bash function forgetfulness


For people who spread bash functions and aliases across multiple sourced files and then can’t track down where they defined them.


Place both _where.bash and common.bash in the same folder in your $PATH.

Option 1: Hook source

This option will hook the Bash default source command and index shell scripts whenenver they’re sourced from another file.

Add the following to your .bash_profile before any source commands are run:

export WHERE_EXPIRATION=86400 # once a day
source /path/to/_where.bash

If you choose this option, see Database refresh throttling below.

Option 2: Curated indexing

  1. Source _where.sh in your .bash_profile prior to sourcing other files

     source /path/to/_where.bash
  2. Add the following to the bottom of specific files to be indexed:

     _where_from $BASH_SOURCE

Indexing every file you source can slow down login, so option 2 may be ideal.

You can add the necessary line to every file in a folder and subfolders using the _where_add function:

$ _where_add ~/scripts{,/**}/*.{,ba}sh

Remove the lines using the _where_clean function:

$ _where_clean ~/scripts{,/**}/*.{,ba}sh


where [-kav] [function_name|search_pattern]

Once the database is built, you can use the where command to find your functions. Running where with no arguments will output a list of all registered plugins and aliases.

Add an argument to filter for a specific function or alias. By default only exact matches will return. If an exact match is found, just the file path of the originating script will be returned.


-k   Show all functions and aliases containing filter text
-a   Show all functions and aliases fuzzy matched
-v   Verbose output
-n   Suppress line number in paths
-E   Edit result
-h   Show this screen

The -k switch turns on “apropos” mode, which lets you find any function containing the filter string in its name.

The -a switch takes “apropos” a step further, using the filter argument as a fuzzy search string. It will match any functions/arguments containing the characters in the search string in sequence, but they do not need to be contiguous.

If -a is specified, -k is ignored in the arguments.

-E causes $EDITOR to be opened with the path to the file containing the searched function. -E does not work with -k or -a.

-v will display a little more information in the output–such as command type–when used without -k or -a.

$ where git
$ where -v git
alias git is defined in /Users/ttscoff/.bash_it/aliases/custom.aliases.bash on line 69


  • where? is equivalent to where -k
  • where* is equivalent to where -a


Database location

You can customize the location of the text file where uses with the environment variable WHERE_FUNCTIONS_FROM_DB. Set it before sourcing the script in ~/.bash_profile:

export WHERE_FUNCTIONS_FROM_DB=/new/path/filename

Source hook

To enable where to automatically index any file sourced in your configuration, set the WHERE_HOOK_SOURCE variable to true before sourcing _where.bash in ~/.bash_profile:


Database refresh throttling

Set an expiration threshold on the database with WHERE_EXPIRATION. The threshold is in seconds, where one hour is 3600, and one day is 86400 (60 * 60 * 24). If where is initialized within the threshold since last update, it won’t index the files again.


You can force a database refresh with _where_reset on the command line. This will clear your database and set an update marker for the current time.


Brett Terpstra 2015, WTF license.


Get where on GitHub.

Speaking of Where?…

Related Projects