Would the following be the right way to do it in your opinion? Can you suggest a better alternative or, if not, is there something that can be done to make the existing version better?

ps -e | grep skype | cut -d" " -f1 | xargs kill -s term
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would install Linux-style killall to take care of this. \$\endgroup\$
    – chicks
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @chicks In Linux, /usr/bin/pkill is in the same procps package as /bin/ps, but /usr/bin/killall is in a separate psmisc package. Also, fun fact: on Solaris, killall actually tries to kill everything that it possibly can, regardless of command-line parameters! For both reasons, I recommend pkill over killall. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


As the comments have pointed out, there exist tools to match processes by name. This is roughly equivalent (better than) what you're trying to do:

pkill skype

It's better because:

  1. It's shorter and cleaner
  2. It won't kill itself

By the second point I mean that ps -e | grep skype will match the grep process itself too. That won't happen when using pkill.

Code review

If we wanted to imitate pkill, I would suggest writing like this:

ps -e | awk '/[s]kype/ { print $1 }' | xargs kill

That is:

  • Replace two processes with one (grep + cut with awk)
  • Use [s]kype instead of skype is a common trick to make the awk itself not match
  • Drop -s term from kill, as TERM is the default signal anyway

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