» Getting bash Completion Magic on OS X #

Paul R. Brown @ 2008-06-25

One of the many nifty features of bash is that it provides context-sensitive completion, but for some reason this capability isn't part of the bash that ships with Mac OS X, at least as of 10.5.3, which is what I'm presently using.

To rectify the oversight, first install the bash_completion port via MacPorts:

$ sudo port install bash-completion

And then modify your ~/.profile as directed, e.g., by adding:

if [ -f /opt/local/etc/bash_completion ]; then
    . /opt/local/etc/bash_completion

To load your own local collection of completion hooks, create the directory ~/.bash_completion.d and then put the following in ~/.bash_completion (essentially cut/pasted out of /opt/local/etc/bash_completion):

        for i in $USER_BASH_COMPLETION_DIR/*; do
                [[ ${i##*/} != @(*~|*.bak|*.swp|\#*\#|*.dpkg*|.rpm*) ]] &&
                        [ \( -f $i -o -h $i \) -a -r $i ] && . $i
unset i

Next, above the other block added to ~/.profile, add:

export USER_BASH_COMPLETION_DIR=~/.bash_completion.d

As for the contents of .bash_completion.d, I put the completion files supplied with darcs and cabal-install there, so in addition to the usual niceties like completion of paths on remote servers (e.g., for scp), I also get convenient completion behavior at the commandline, e.g., with cabal:

$ cabal install hsc[TAB]
hsc2hs hsc3 hsclock hscolour hscurses


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