How to use unalias command in Linux.

How To Use Unalias Command.

The unalias command is a Unix and Unix-like operating system command used to remove or unset aliases in a shell session. In Unix-based systems, aliases are shortcuts or user-defined commands that allow you to create shorter or more convenient names for longer or frequently used commands. Aliases are typically defined in shell configuration files like ~/.bashrc, ~/.zshrc, or others.

An alias is a user-defined command or shortcut that allows you to create a more concise or memorable name for a longer command or a sequence of commands. Aliases are typically defined in shell configuration files such as ~/.bashrc for Bash, ~/.zshrc for Zsh, and others. They make it easier to execute complex or frequently used commands by simply typing a shorter, customized alias.

For instance, instead of typing the full ls -l command to list files in long format, you can create an alias like “ll” to achieve the same result. Here’s how you can define such an alias:

alias ll='ls -l'

After defining this alias in your shell configuration file and reloading it, you can use ll as a shorthand for ls -l.


Introducing the unalias Command

Now, let’s explore the unalias command. It is a built-in command available in most Unix-like shells, and its primary purpose is to remove or unset aliases. The unalias command allows you to clean up your shell environment by eliminating aliases you no longer need.


Basic Syntax

The basic syntax of the unalias command is straightforward:

unalias [options] [alias_name ...]

Here’s a breakdown of the components:

  • options: Optional flags that modify the behavior of the unalias command.

  • alias_name: The name of the alias you want to remove. You can specify one or more alias names.


Removing a Single Alias

To remove a single alias, you can use the unalias command followed by the name of the alias. For example, to remove the “ll” alias defined earlier, you would execute:

unalias ll

After running this command, the “ll” alias will no longer be available in your current shell session. This can be helpful when you want to declutter your environment or if you’ve defined aliases that are conflicting or causing confusion.


Removing Multiple Aliases

If you want to remove multiple aliases at once, you can provide their names as arguments to the unalias command, separated by spaces. For instance:

unalias alias1 alias2 alias3

This command will remove all three specified aliases.


Removing All Aliases

If you wish to remove all aliases defined in your current shell session, you can simply run the unalias command without any arguments:


This command will clear all aliases, effectively resetting your shell environment to its default state.


Options for Fine-tuning unalias

The unalias command also offers some options that allow you to fine-tune its behavior:

  • -a or –all: This option is used to remove all aliases, just like running unalias without arguments.

unalias -a
  • -f or –force: By default, unalias refuses to remove aliases that are read-only (set using readonly or alias -r). If you want to forcefully remove such aliases, you can use the -f option.

unalias -f alias_name


Persistence of Changes

It’s important to note that the changes made with the unalias command are temporary and apply only to the current shell session. Once you close the terminal or start a new session, any aliases you removed using unalias will be restored to their original state. To make permanent changes to your aliases, you should edit the appropriate shell configuration file (e.g., ~/.bashrc, ~/.zshrc) and remove or comment out the alias definitions there.


Common Use Cases for unalias

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the unalias command, let’s explore some common use cases where it can be beneficial.


Resolving Conflicts

Aliases can sometimes collide with existing command names or other aliases, leading to unexpected behavior. When you encounter such conflicts, you can use unalias to remove the conflicting alias temporarily and investigate the issue further.


Streamlining Your Environment

Over time, you may accumulate numerous aliases that you no longer use or need. These unnecessary aliases can clutter your shell environment and make it challenging to manage your configuration. The unalias command is a handy tool for cleaning up and streamlining your shell environment.



When troubleshooting issues with your shell or scripts, you might suspect that certain aliases are interfering with your commands. By selectively removing aliases with unalias, you can isolate the problem and pinpoint its source.


Scripting and Automation

In shell scripts or automation tasks, you may want to ensure that your scripts run in a clean environment without any user-defined aliases. Using the unalias command within your scripts can help achieve this by temporarily removing aliases before executing critical commands.


Best Practices

While unalias is a useful command, it’s important to follow some best practices when using it:

  1. Use It Judiciously: Only remove aliases when necessary. Avoid removing essential or frequently used aliases that enhance your productivity.

  2. Document Your Aliases: Keep a record of your aliases and their purposes. This documentation can help you decide which aliases to keep and which ones to remove.

  3. Backup Your Configuration: Before making significant changes to your shell configuration, back up your configuration files. This precaution ensures that you can revert to a previous state if needed.

  4. Reload Your Shell: After using unalias to remove aliases, remember to reload your shell configuration using the appropriate command. For example, in Bash, you can use source ~/.bashrc to apply changes.

  5. Consider Permanent Changes: If you find yourself frequently removing the same aliases, consider whether you should redefine or modify them in your shell configuration file to better suit your needs.



The unalias command is a valuable tool in the Unix-like command-line environment, allowing users to manage and declutter their shell sessions by removing aliases. Whether you’re resolving conflicts, streamlining your environment, troubleshooting issues, or scripting tasks, unalias offers the flexibility to control your aliases effectively.

By understanding how to use unalias and following best practices, you can maintain a clean and efficient shell environment that empowers you to work more productively and with greater control over your command-line experience.