How to Make a “sh” Script Executable to Run From a Terminal?

In the realm of computing, shell scripts are pivotal tools. These scripts, written in a shell programming language, hold the key to automating tasks within a Unix-like operating system. Their significance lies in their ability to streamline processes, offering efficiency and speed. In this guide, you’ll delve into the crucial process of making these scripts not just writable but executable from the terminal. Uncover the power of seamless automation by understanding the importance of executing shell scripts.

Making Shell Scripts Executable to Run From the Terminal

Shell scripts, at their core, are sets of commands that the operating system executes. In the Unix-like environment, these scripts play a pivotal role in automating various tasks. The ‘.sh’ file extension designates them as shell scripts, distinguishing them from other file types. Essentially, these scripts are the architects of efficiency, orchestrating commands to perform tasks swiftly and effectively. As we explore how to make them executable, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of their role in enhancing productivity within the Unix environment.

Let’s go over each step of creating a shell script and running it from the terminal:

Step 1: Creating a Simple Shell Script

Creating a shell script involves utilizing a text editor like Nano or Vim. These editors enable you to write a sequence of commands to perform a specific task. Start by opening the desired editor and crafting a basic script. For instance, a script to list files in a directory might look like this:


Save this script with a ‘.sh’ extension, such as ‘’. This step marks the initiation of your journey into shell scripting.

Step 2: Permissions and Executability

Understanding file permissions is crucial for making a shell script executable. In Linux/Unix, the execute permission (‘x’) determines whether a file can be run as a program. By default, newly created scripts may lack this permission. Utilize the chmod command to add execute permission:

chmod +x

This command grants the script execution rights. After this, your script is not merely a text file; it’s a executable program ready to run from the terminal.

Step 3: Checking Current Permissions

Before proceeding, it’s beneficial to confirm the current permissions of your shell script. Use the ls -l command to list detailed file information. In the output, you’ll observe a series of letters indicating permissions. Ensure that ‘x’ (execute) permission is present for your script. If it’s missing, the script won’t be executable. This step is crucial for verifying that your script has the necessary permissions for terminal execution.

Step 4: Making a Script Executable

The process of making a shell script executable involves the chmod command, which stands for “change mode.” To add execute permission, use the following syntax:

chmod +x

This command modifies the file mode bits to include execute permission. The ‘+’ signifies adding, and ‘x’ denotes execute. After running this command, your shell script is ready to be executed directly from the terminal. This step is pivotal for transforming your script into an executable program, ensuring it can perform the intended tasks when called upon.

Step 5: Verifying Executability

After making your shell script executable, it’s essential to verify the changes. Once again, use the ls -l command to list detailed file information. Confirm that the ‘x’ (execute) permission is now present for your script. The output should display the updated permissions, indicating that your script is ready for execution. This verification step ensures that the necessary permissions have been successfully added, paving the way for seamless execution from the terminal.

Step 6: Running the Shell Script

With the necessary permissions in place, running your shell script is a straightforward process. Navigate to the directory where your script is located using the cd command. Then, execute the script using the following command:


Replace ‘’ with the name of your shell script. The ‘./’ denotes the current directory, informing the terminal to look for the script in the present location. Upon hitting Enter, your shell script will execute, carrying out the tasks defined within the script. This step marks the culmination of the process, showcasing the practical execution of your shell script in a terminal environment.

Troubleshooting Execution Issues With Shell Scripts

While running a shell script is usually straightforward, you might encounter occasional issues. If your script fails to execute, consider these troubleshooting tips:

  1. Check File Path: Ensure you’re in the correct directory or provide the full path to the script.
  2. Permissions: Reconfirm that execute permissions are correctly set using chmod +x.
  3. Shebang Line: Verify the shebang line (#!/bin/bash) at the script’s beginning, ensuring it points to the correct shell.
  4. Encoding: Ensure your script is saved with the correct encoding, typically UTF-8.
  5. Syntax Errors: Examine your script for syntax errors by running bash -n

By addressing these common issues, you can troubleshoot and resolve execution problems, ensuring your shell script runs smoothly.

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Best Practices For Executable Scripts

As you delve deeper into shell scripting, adopting best practices becomes paramount:

  1. Organize Your Scripts: Keep scripts organized in a dedicated directory for easy access.
  2. Add Comments: Document your scripts with comments to explain functionality and usage.
  3. Version Control: Consider using version control systems like Git to track changes.
  4. Backup Scripts: Regularly backup important scripts to prevent data loss.
  5. Testing: Before deploying, test scripts in a safe environment to catch potential issues.

By adhering to these best practices, you enhance the reliability, maintainability, and efficiency of your shell scripts. This section provides guidance on troubleshooting common execution problems and adopting practices for effective script management.

Additional Resources Related To Executable Bash Scripts

For further exploration and enhancing your shell scripting skills, consider the following resources:

  1. Bash Reference Manual: The official manual for the Bash shell, providing in-depth information on its features and usage.
  2. Linux Documentation Project: A comprehensive resource offering guides, how-tos, and FAQs related to Linux and Unix.
  3. ShellCheck: An online tool to check your shell scripts for common issues and improvements.
  4. GitHub: Explore repositories containing various shell scripts to learn from real-world examples and projects.

As you continue your journey in shell scripting, these resources will serve as valuable references and inspiration for expanding your knowledge and capabilities.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, mastering the process of making a shell script executable and running it from the terminal is foundational for any Linux or Unix user. This guide has walked you through the crucial steps, from creating a simple script and understanding permissions to troubleshooting issues and implementing best practices. Armed with this knowledge, you’re well-equipped to harness the power of shell scripting for automating tasks and boosting your productivity in a Unix-like environment. As you continue your journey in shell scripting, remember that practice and exploration are key to becoming proficient in this powerful skill.

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