How to increase bash shell history length in OS X

I do a lot of command line work on my OS X machine, so the history saves me a lot of time running repeat commands and also refreshing my memory on commands that I haven’t run in a while. Unfortunately, the default history length in OS X is 500 commands. That seems like a lot, but when you’re running 50+ commands a day it can push older commands off the list pretty quickly. This is easily solved by setting the HISTFILESIZE in your .bash_profile file.

First, to find out what HISTFILESIZE is currently set at, run the following command from Terminal:


To change this value, simply add the following line to your .bash_profile file (found in /Users/yourname/):


This increases your bash history to 2000 items. It will take effect next time you open a Terminal window.