All of bash 's command history facilities depend on a list that records commands as you type them into the shell. Whenever you log in or start another interactive shell, bash reads an initial history list from the file .bash_history in your home directory. From that point on, every bash interactive session maintains its own list of commands. When you exit from a shell, it saves the list in .bash_history . You can call this file whatever you like by setting the environment variable HISTFILE . We'll look more closely at HISTFILE and some other related command history variables in the next chapter.