For example, I have a simple bash file

cd ~/hello

How can I make it display every command before executing it? Just the opposite effect of "@echo off" in windows batch scripting.

  • 1
    For those looking for what the set options are, you can find them on this man page. – mkobit Oct 16 '15 at 16:41
  • You can simply extend shebang like this #!/bin/bash -x – sobi3ch Mar 22 '16 at 10:48
bash -x script


set -x

in the script.

You can unset the option again with set +x. If you just want to do it for a few commands you can use a subshell: `(set -x; command1; command; ...;)

  • I have always used this to great effect. The output looks a little dirtier than you might first expect. – Scott Pack May 31 '09 at 13:51
  • 3
    By setting PS4 you can tweak the prompt of -x. E.g.: PS4='Line $LINENO @ $(date +%s.%N): ' bash -x script (date will slow it down, though) – Walter Tross Nov 17 '14 at 11:15

These also work:

set -v


#!/bin/bash -v

But -v doesn't print the PS4 string before each script line and it doesn't trace the steps of a "for" statement (for example) individually. It does echo comments while -x doesn't.

Here's an example of the output using -v:

#!/bin/bash -v
# this is a comment
for i in {1..4}
    echo -n $i

echo hello

Here's the result of the same script with -x:

+ for i in '{1..4}'
+ echo -n 1
1+ for i in '{1..4}'
+ echo -n 2
2+ for i in '{1..4}'
+ echo -n 3
3+ for i in '{1..4}'
+ echo -n 4
4+ echo

+ echo hello

Note that I included "echo -n" to add emphasis to the differences between -v and -x. Also, -v is the same as "-o verbose", but the latter seems not to work as part of a shebang.

  • Great explanation! without doing any research, it looks to me like Verbose and eXplicit are what those two letters stand for. – Ape-inago May 31 '09 at 15:58
  • I think -x is closer to eXecute. – Steven Parkes Aug 25 '12 at 15:08

This should also work:

#!/bin/bash -x
cd ~/hello

This should work:

set -o verbose #echo on
set +o verbose #echo off

set -o xtrace and set +o xtrace are your friends (it is more verbose, than -o verbose, and the output goes to STDERR, as opposed to verbose, which seems to log to STDOUT).

See more tips here


There are a few ways.

#!/usr/bin/env bash -x

as the shebang line.

Including set -x in the script itself will enable the functionality while set +x will disable it. Both of these methods will also work with the more portable sh shell.

If I remember correctly perl also has the -x option.


goes like

language -x script

language = python, perl, bash -x = operator script = filename

hope it helps.

  • 3
    -x has nothing to with echoing in Python – Eugene Pankov May 26 '15 at 14:50

#! /bin/bash -x does what you want.

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