Navigating Folder Structures

In this video we'll use the "pwd" command to see what directory we are in, and the "ls" command to list the files that are in our current directory.

The first thing we need to do is open up our terminal.

Once it's opened you'll see the last login time on the first line, while the second line shows information about my computer, what folder I'm in and who I'm logged in as. You'll see "Brians-MacBook-Air" which is my computer name, followed by a colon and then a "~" (which indicates the user home directory) and that is the directory I am currently in. Finally we'll see "ModulesUnraveled" which is my user name, and a "$" which is the prompt that indicates it is ready for me to type my command. (Some systems use a symbol other than the "$" including "%" or "#". Windows will commonly use ">".)

Seeing which directory you're currently in

There may come a time when you don't know which directory you are currenly in. The "pwd" command tells you just that. If I type it and press Enter, the result is "/Users/ModulesUnraveled". Let's go to this directory in Finder to follow along. I'll also split the screen so that the terminal is on the left and the Finder window is on the right. This will make it easier to follow along throughout the series.

Listing files and folders in the current directory

In the Finder window, we see the contents of the "/Users/ModulesUnraveled" directory. To see them in the terminal, you use the "ls" command, which is used to list files and directories. So, when I type "ls" and press "Enter" we see the same folders that we do in the Finder window.

Now, let's say we want to see the files and directories inside one of the directories listed here. I'll show you two ways to do that. One will keep us in the current working directory, while the second will actually move us into the other directory before we list the files.

Let's view the files and folders inside the "Downloads" directory, while staying in our current directory. To do this, we simply type the "ls" command, followed by the directory whose contents we want to list. In this case, the command is "ls Downloads". This time, when I press Enter, we see the contents of the Downloads folder.

Just to continue to help you visualize this, I'll open the Downloads folder in Finder.

I can even dig deeper by using the "/" and typing a folder inside the Downloads directory. For example "ls Downloads/Examples" will list the contents of the "Examples" folder that is inside the "Downloads folder"

Looking at the Finder window shows you that they are the same thing.

This is infinitely extensible, meaning that you can dig as deep as you want by utilizing the "/". For example, you could type "ls Downloads/Examples/Example1/Test" to list the files inside the "Test" folder. There aren't any currently, so there is nothing displayed in the Terminal.