When do prompts get out of hand? I.e. when do they get more in the way than not? For the longest time I ran with the directory creeping prompt that most distros seem to ship with. After I figured out how to use readline's history via the ! expansions, my prompt became minimal (just "\!> ").

However, now with a windows install with an file system layout that I don't know well, I found that I needed my current directory shown, so I'm using the following bash prompt setup:

sane_prompt() { # sync to disk history -a # character length of $PWD too long? add carriage return if test ${#PWD} -gt 40 ; then export PS1="\! \w\n> " else export PS1="\! \w> " fi # tell screen about the prompt, if running under screen ps | grep $PPID | grep -q -i SCREEN if test "$?" == "0" ; then export PS1='\[\033k\033\\\]'${PS1} fi } export PROMPT_COMMAND=sane_prompt