Get directory of script in bash

When working with Bash scripts, it’s not uncommon to need the directory where your script is located. This is essential for scripts that need to interact with files in the same directory or ensure relative paths work correctly. But, how do you get the directory of a Bash script? This article provides a comprehensive guide with simple, step-by-step instructions to help you retrieve a Bash script’s directory in any situation. We’ll explore the dirname, ${BASH_SOURCE[0]}, and readlink commands, among other solutions, to cover all the bases.

Learn more about Bash scripting

Key Takeaways

  • You will understand the various methods to get the directory of a Bash script.
  • We will clarify the differences between these methods and when to use each.
  • A step-by-step guide will be provided for each method.
  • This guide is aimed at script writers, system administrators, and developers who work with Bash scripts.

What is Bash Get Directory of Script?

To get the directory of a Bash script, it involves using shell variables and commands that return the path to the script being executed. These methods ensure that regardless of how the script is called, the correct directory is retrieved, even when dealing with symbolic links or scripts that are sourced rather than executed.

Step-by-Step Guide to Bash Get Directory of Script

Using $0 and dirname

When a Bash script is executed, the $0 variable contains the name of the script. You can combine this with the dirname command to extract the directory.

SCRIPT_DIR=$(dirname "$0")
echo "Script directory is: $SCRIPT_DIR"

However, remember that the output of dirname may vary based on how the script is called.

Using readlink

To handle symbolic links, readlink -f can resolve the full path of the script’s directory.

SCRIPT_DIR=$(dirname "$(readlink -f "$0")")
echo "Script directory is: $SCRIPT_DIR"


A reliable way to get the script’s directory is by using the ${BASH_SOURCE[0]} variable, which works correctly even when the script is sourced.

SCRIPT_DIR=$(dirname "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}")
echo "Script directory is: $SCRIPT_DIR"

Combining pwd with dirname and ${BASH_SOURCE[0]}

A universal way to get the directory, amalgamating pwd with dirname and ${BASH_SOURCE[0]}, works in most scenarios.

SCRIPT_DIR=$(cd "$(dirname "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}")" >/dev/null 2>&1 && pwd)
echo "Script directory is: $SCRIPT_DIR"

Who is Bash Get Directory of Script For?

This guide is ideal for anyone writing Bash scripts that need to reference files in the same directory or correctly handle paths within the script — particularly useful for script writers, system administrators, and developers.

Expanding on Key Points

When to Use $0 and dirname

While the combination of $0 and dirname might be straightforward, it’s not foolproof. This method works fine if the script is called from its containing directory but can give unexpected results if called from a different directory or via a symbolic link.

Why readlink is Important

The readlink command is essential when dealing with symbolic links. Without resolving symlinks, you might end up with a path that doesn’t actually point to the script’s real directory. readlink -f ensures you get the canonical path.

The Reliability of BASH_SOURCE

The BASH_SOURCE variable is especially useful in scenarios where the script is being sourced. Unlike $0, which may not provide the correct path when sourcing, ${BASH_SOURCE[0]} always returns the actual script path.

The Universal Approach

Combining pwd, dirname, and ${BASH_SOURCE[0]} into a one-liner provides a robust solution that covers most edge cases. It ensures the directory path is absolute and resolves any issues with symbolic links or different ways the script may be called.


Retrieving the directory of a Bash script is a common but sometimes complex task. We’ve explored multiple methods, including the usage of $0 with dirname, the readlink command to resolve symlinks, and the reliable ${BASH_SOURCE[0]} for sourced scripts. By following the step-by-step guide provided, you’ll be able to consistently and accurately find your script’s directory under various circumstances.

Whether you are a long-time script writer or just starting with Bash, getting the directory of your script doesn’t have to be a challenge. Utilize the tips and techniques discussed, and always remember to test your scripts in different scenarios to ensure they function as expected.

And if you enjoyed this guide, consider deepening your knowledge of Bash scripting—knowing how to effectively manage your script’s environment and paths is just the beginning of writing powerful and robust shell scripts.