UNIX File Structure

Logically, UNIX is structured like a tree. The top level directory is called root and
is represented by /. Under the root are several directories. Some of the more important
ones are:

home usr var tmp

Everyone’s home directory is located under home. Most UNIX applications are located
under usr. Everyone’s mail spool is located under var. You can temporarily store
files under tmp.

Moving Around

You can change to a directory by specifying the full path starting at root. Some

    cd /
    cd /tmp
    cd /var/mail
    cd /usr/usc/bin

You can change to a user’s home directory by using the ~ symbol followed by a username.
Some examples:

    cd ~ttrojan
    cd ~jsmith
    cd ~pdp101/assignments
    cd ~csci102/programs/prog1

You can change to a subdirectory of the current directory by typing the subdirectory name. Some examples assuming you are in a directory called fruits which contains subdirectories named apple, banana and orange:

    cd banana
    cd orange
    cd apple

You can move up one directory from the current directory by typing ..
which stands for the parent directory. For example:

    cd ..

At any point in time, you can return to your home directory by simply typing cd with no
arguments. For example:


For more info on using cp and other directory commands, see the ITS documentation at
Directory Commands.