When you login to the system you are placed into a directory called the home directory. The location of this directory can vary from system to system. In my case my home directory is called
george. The home directory is actually a subdirectory, meaning it is inside of another folder. At the top of the directory tree there is a folder called
/ pronounced slash this is also known as the root directory.
The directory you are in is commonly called the current working directory. A pathname that begins with a
/ is called a full pathname because it specifies a complete path from the root. For example the full pathname to the Documents directory in the diagram above would be
It is often inconvenient to have to type out the full pathname. Pathnames that do not begin with a
/ are called relative pathnames. They are called this because they are relative to the current working directory. For example if your current working directory was
george you could reference the Documents directory simply by typing
Documents. Notice that the directory name is case sensitive. If you wanted to reference the Notes directory you could do so like this
The directory that is above the current working directory is often referred to as the parent directory. To reference the parent directory we can use
... Therefore if the current working directory was
george the the relative pathname
.. would reference
Users. To reference the root directory the relative pathname would be
As a final example if the current working directory was
Essays we could access
Sketch.app with the relative pathname
The notation used to reference the current working directory is
.. In Mac the
open command opens the specified path in Finder.
This command would open the current working directory in Finder.
When you are typing out a full path name long or complicated directory names can be a pain. Say for example your current working directory is
george if you type out
Doc then hit tab it will autocomplete to