Section: User Commands (1.1.7)
Updated: February 2013



selector - A simple command line utility for dynamic pattern selection



selector [options] [<filename1> [<filename2> ...]]



selector is a command line utility for interactive real-time pattern matching. It reads the content of the specified files, and as the user types a list of strings separated by ";" (or a regexp), the display is updated in real time to show only the lines containing all the said strings (or matching the regexp).

This command was mainly designed as a way to search efficiently in the shell history, for which it is substantially better than the standard readline ^R binding. With the -v option, it injects the selected line into the tty input buffer, hence allowing the user to edit the line and execute it as a standard command.

Selector is also a handy tool to test regexps, or to display menus with many possible choices. For the latter, the -x option allows to show different strings than the ones returned.

Note that because this is an interactive command, the standard input cannot be used as one of the input files.



The selector command comes with a shell script for bash. If you add

source --hist --cd

in your ~/.bashrc, it will remap M-r to the smart history search, and redefine cd so that M-c provides a smart cd history.

This script relies on readline being configured with the default emacs-style key bindings. You may have to hack a bit if you want to use it with the vi-style mode.



Keys corresponding to ASCII codes between " " and "~" add a character to the pattern string. The Backspace key, "^H" and "^?" delete the character immediately on the left of the cursor, while the Delete key and "^D" delete the character at cursor location.

The Left and Right cursor keys move the editing cursor accordingly. The Up and Down cursor keys move the selected line one entry at a time, and PageUp and PageDown move it by ten entries. The Home and End key move to the top and the bottom of the list respectively. The return key selects the current line and exits.

The keys "^A", "^E", "^U", and "^K" do somehow what they do in readline, and you can exit selector without doing anything by either interrupting the command with "^C" or by typing "^G" or the Escape key.

The key "^R" switches between the multi-substring and the regexp selection mode, and "^I" between the case-sensitive and case-insensitive modes.



-h, --help
display help and exit
-m, --monochrome
force the monochrome mode
-i, --revert-order
revert the order of the lines
-b, --remove-bash-prefix
remove the numeric prefix from bash history
-z, --remove-zsh-prefix
remove the time prefix from zsh history
-d, --remove-duplicates
remove duplicated lines (note that you can have two different lines with the same visible part if you use the -x option)
-e, --regexp
start in regexp mode
-a, --case-sensitive
start in case-sensitive mode
-j, --show-long-lines
print a long-line indicator at the end of truncated lines
-y, --show-hits
highlight the part(s) of each line which match(es) the substrings or regexp
-u, --upper-case-makes-case-sensitive
using an upper case in the matching string makes the matching case-sensitive
-q, --no-beep
make a flash instead of a beep when there is an edition error
state that all following arguments are filenames
standard setting for bash history search, same as

-b -i -d -v -w -l ${HISTSIZE}

-t <title>, --title <title>
add a title in the modeline
-r <pattern>, --pattern <pattern>
set a pattern
-c <colors>, --colors <colors>
select the modeline and highlight color numbers with a color list of the form


-v, --inject-in-tty
inject the selected line into the tty input buffer
-w, --add-control-qs
add ^Q between characters during tty injection to quote control characters
-o <filename>, --output-file <filename>
write the selected line into the specified file
-s <separator>, --pattern-separator <separator>
specify the character to separate the substrings in the search pattern
-x <separator>, --label-separator <separator>
specify the character to separate what to show to the user during the selection from the line to return. If the provided separator is "\n", the lines to show to the user alternate with the lines to return
-l <number>, --number-of-lines <number>
specify the maximum number of lines to take into account



To use selector to search into your bash history

selector -q --bash <(history)

To show a list of directories and insert a cd command to the selected one

selector -v -x "\n" <(find . -type d | awk '{ print $0"\ncd "$0 }')

To select a line in a long text and write the line number in /tmp/nb

selector -o /tmp/nb -x "\n" <(awk < something.txt '{ print $0"\n"NR }')



There are modeline display problems if the pattern is too long. This program does not handle multibyte characters.

The -v option does not work on FreeBSD 8.0 since the TIOCSTI ioctl request is broken.



Written by Francois Fleuret <> and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3 as published by the Free Software Foundation. This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.



This document was created by using the manual pages.
Time: 23:21:30 GMT, October 22, 2018