cdargs: Changing directories, quickly and visually

I am an avid user of Midnight Commander, and I will admit I sometimes use it as a navigation tool, and not just as a file manager. By that I mean, I can oftentimes navigate to obscure folders more quickly with mc, provided the lynx-like navigation setting is enabled.

That lets right arrows descend into directories, and left arrows bounce back out. Press CTRL+O, and bingo, your shell is there, in the directory. So you have a four-way folder navigation tool and sometimes — not always, but sometimes — it works faster than tab completion.

I’ve seen similar tree navigation with other tools; ranger is the first one to come to mind. ranger’s speed and popularity both depend to some degree on its quick and nimble navigation.

So why not a tool that just navigates directories, and leave it at that? Why not cdargs?


I’m pitching navigation speed and yet I can’t really demonstrate that in a static image. You’ll have to imagine working your way through your own file tree with the arrow keys, quickly bounding between folders with the grace of a gazelle, finally punching the Enter key with authority, and making your selection. Very satisfying.

cdargs also has some bookmarking capability, so you can add hot links to folders you use often. And technically speaking, cdargs has two “modes,” one for the browser and one for the list, and you can switch between them with the TAB key. More high-speed high jinx.

cdargs itself is meant as a drop-in tool for the shell, so ideally you should hunt down the file or the file that should be included, and source them to add that function. I can’t speak to the zsh version, but the bash script adds the cv command, which turns cdargs into a proper directory switching tool.

Just about the only other thing I think I should say about cdargs is, this might be a good tool for command-line newcomers. There’s a visual element here that will probably appeal to people who aren’t yet used to thinking of a file structure as a tree that needs to be traversed. Supplying this and explaining the up-down-left-right arrangement might save some time.

But other than that, I can’t find much more to say about cdargs; the man page and help flags will probably guide you toward menu-based fast directory switching enlightenment. I see this is in both Arch proper and Debian, so it’s quite prolific. …

Oh, wait: No color. 😦 Oh well, nothing’s perfect. 😉

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