An introduction to the command line, for the GC Digital Research Institute
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Introduction to the Command Line

By this point in our academic careers, most of us have figured out some ways we like to interact with computers. Whether that involves avoiding them as much as possible or constantly testing new software, we likely have some ideas about how we feel comfortable getting things done. How would you show a person who had never seen a computer, say Kimmy Schmidt or Brendan Fraser in Blast from the Past, how to do something on your computer?

Many of us would explain what a screen and a cursor are, and then show how to point and click on icons. This approach relies on a graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced "gooey!").

Today we're going to explore another way to make your computer do things: through the command line. Instead of pointing and clicking, we'll be typing in either git bash (Windows) or terminal (OSX) to tell the computer directly what task we'd like it to perform.

While this new technique can seem intimidating if you haven't used text-based interfaces before, luckily, you can use 90% of the functionality of the command line by becoming comfortable with a very small set of the most common commands.

In this session, we'll learn those common commands by exploring and manipulating a simple data set. By the end of the session, you'll be able to navigate your computer, create and manipulate files, and transform text-based data using only the command line.

Get ready to impress with your computer know-how!

What's the command line?
Getting to the command line
Creating files and folders
Creating a cheat sheet
Exploring text data
Searching text data


Commands cheat sheet
Other useful commands
Further challenges

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