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Pimp Up Your Shell

A guide for boosting your macOS shell experience.

How Do You Call Your Workstation?​

Give your box a name please: (⚠️ Change rafi-mac )

export COMPUTER_NAME="rafi-mac"
sudo scutil --set ComputerName "${COMPUTER_NAME}"
sudo scutil --set HostName "${COMPUTER_NAME}"
sudo scutil --set LocalHostName "${COMPUTER_NAME}"

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ NetBIOSName -string "${COMPUTER_NAME}"

You might need to reboot your laptop after this. πŸ™„

Check-out for awesome ways to configure your macOS.

Most Frequently Used Shells​

  1. Bash β€” (Bourne Again Shell) Default on many Linux distros.
  2. Tcsh β€” Enhanced C shell.
  3. Ksh β€” Korn shell.
  4. Zsh β€” Incorporates many features of other Unix/GNU Linux shells.
  5. Fish β€” Friendly interactive shell.

Apple default shell is ZSH​

Since around 2020, apple has switched to ZSH.

Continue with this tutorial only if you want to switch to Bash!

Apple Packs Outdated Software​


$ git version
git version 2.17.1

On July 27, 2004, Chet Ramey released version 3 of Bash. It's really old.

Let's Install The Newest Bash!

Make sure first you uninstall a conflicting package, if you have it installed.

brew uninstall --force bash-completion
brew install readline bash bash-completion@2

Set New Bash As Default Shell​

echo "/opt/homebrew/bin/bash" | sudo tee -a /etc/shells
chsh -s /opt/homebrew/bin/bash

Now, close all Terminal windows and open them again.


You should see the fresh new Bash version you've installed.

GNU vs. BSD​

POSIX is a set of standards to implement.

GNU tools are basically open versions of tools that already existed but were redone to conform to principals of open software.

Unix and BSD are "older" implementations of POSIX that are various levels of "closed source".

Unix timeline

GNU vs. BSD​

Let's install some GNU tools!

brew install coreutils gnutls gawk gnu-sed gnu-tar gnu-which
brew ls coreutils
/opt/homebrew/bin/gsort --help
/usr/bin/sort --help

Note the difference.

Init Scripts

Remember autoexec.bat and config.sys ?


Bash Invocation​

Bash behaviour can be altered depending on how it is invoked. If Bash is spawned by login in a TTY, an SSH daemon, or similar, it is considered a login shell. This mode can also be engaged using the -l/--login option. Bash is considered an interactive shell when its standard input and error are connected to a terminal, and it is not started with -c option.

All interactive shells source ~/.bashrc, while interactive login shells also source ~/.bash_profile. Your terminal emulator might be using a login shell via -l.

Fresh New Shell Init Scripts​

Let's backup our .bashrc and .bash_profile and start a new fresh beginning.

mv ~/.bashrc ~/.bashrc.old
mv ~/.bash_profile ~/.bash_profile.old
mkdir -p ~/.config/bash
touch ~/.config/bash/bashrc ~/.config/bash/profile
cd ~
ln -s .config/bash/bashrc .bashrc
ln -s .config/bash/profile .bash_profile

Let's Architect This​

cd ~/.config/bash
touch aliases completion exports inputrc utils

mkdir -p ~/.local/{share,state,bin} ~/.cache

In your new ~/.config/bash/exports append:

export LC_ALL="en_US.UTF-8"
export LANG="en_US.UTF-8"

# XDG directories
export XDG_CONFIG_HOME="$HOME/.config"
export XDG_CACHE_HOME="$HOME/.cache"
export XDG_DATA_HOME="$HOME/.local/share"
export XDG_STATE_HOME="$HOME/.local/state"

(Change en_US.UTF-8 to something else if needed)

Let's Source 'em!​

In your new ~/.bash_profile:

source "$HOME/.config/bash/exports"
source "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/bashrc"

And in your new ~/.bashrc:

# Abort if not running interactively
[[ $- != *i* ]] && return

source "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/completion"
source "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/aliases"
source "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/utils"


GNU Readline is a software library that provides line-editing and history capabilities for interactive programs with a command-line interface, such as Bash.

Readline Config​

Update ~/.config/bash/inpurc with following:

$include /etc/inputrc

# Ring the bell, let other programs handle it (urxvt, tmux, etc.)
set bell-style audible

# Ignore case when matching and completing paths
set completion-ignore-case On

# Treat underscores and hyphens the same way for completion purposes
set completion-map-case On

# Show me up to 5,000 completion items, don't be shy
set completion-query-items 5000

# Don't display control characters like ^C if I input them
set echo-control-characters Off

# Expand tilde to full path on completion
set expand-tilde On

# Preserve caret position while browsing through history lines
set history-preserve-point On

# When completing directories, add a trailing slash
set mark-directories On

# Do the same for symlinked directories
set mark-symlinked-directories On

# on menu-complete, first display the common prefix, then cycle through the
# options when hitting TAB
set menu-complete-display-prefix On

# Don't paginate possible completions
set page-completions Off

# Show multiple completions on first tab press
set show-all-if-ambiguous On

# Don't re-complete already completed text in the middle of a word
set skip-completed-text On

# Show extra file information when completing, like `ls -F` does
set visible-stats on

Tell Shell Where to Find Things​

Append to ~/.config/bash/exports

# Local bin first, then PATH, and lastly the relative bin/ directory.
export PATH="$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH:bin"

export INPUTRC="$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/inputrc"

export HOMEBREW_PREFIX="${HOMEBREW_PREFIX:-/opt/homebrew}"

export HOMEBREW_GITHUB_API_TOKEN="" # Your token here

# Misc defaults
export LESS="-FiQMXR"

ℹ️ Generate new token for Homebrew at

Improve ls​

Append to ~/.config/bash/aliases

# Use GNU ls on macOS instead of BSD
hash gls 2>/dev/null && LS="gls" || LS="ls"

# Listing directory contents
alias ls='LC_COLLATE=C '$LS' --color=auto --group-directories-first'
alias l='ls -CFa'
alias ll='ls -alF'
alias llh='ls -alFh'
alias lld='ls -Gal --color=always | grep ^d --colour=never'
unset LS

Use GNU Tools​

Remember we installed coreutils?

Let's append to ~/.config/bash/aliases

hash gdircolors 2>/dev/null && alias dircolors=gdircolors
hash gsort 2>/dev/null && alias sort=gsort

Have Fun With Aliases​

Append to ~/.config/bash/aliases

# Carry over aliases to the root account when using sudo
alias sudo='sudo '

alias grep="grep --color=auto --exclude-dir=.git"

# Use Neovim
if hash nvim 2>/dev/null; then
alias vim=nvim
alias suvim='sudo -E nvim'
alias suvim='sudo -E vim'
alias v='vim $(fzf)'

# File find, if fd is not installed
if ! hash fd 2>/dev/null; then
alias f='find . -iname '
alias ff='find . -type f -iname '
alias fd='find . -type d -iname '

# Head and tail will show as much possible without scrolling
hash ghead 2>/dev/null && alias h='ghead -n $((${LINES:-12}-4))'
hash gtail 2>/dev/null && alias t='gtail -n $((${LINES:-12}-4)) -s.1'

# Shortcuts
alias cdf='cd "$(dirname "$(fzf)")"'
alias cdd='cd "$(fd --type d | fzf)"'
alias c=clear
alias diff=colordiff

# Storage
alias dut='du -hsx * | sort -rh | head -10'
alias dfu="df -hT -x devtmpfs -x tmpfs"

# Processes
alias process='ps -ax'
alias psk='ps -ax | fzf | cut -d " " -f1 | xargs -o kill'
alias pst='pstree -g 3 -ws'

# Misc
alias fontcache='fc-cache -f -v'
alias freq='cut -f1 -d" " "$HISTFILE" | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head -n 30'
alias sniff="sudo ngrep -d 'en1' -t '^(GET|POST) ' 'tcp and port 80'"
alias multiopen='while read i; do open "$i"; done <<<'
alias ungzip='gzip -d'
alias untar='tar xvf'
alias ipinfo="curl -s"
alias weather="curl -s"

# A quick way to get out of current directory
alias ..='cd ..'
alias ...='cd ../../'
alias ....='cd ../../../'
alias .....='cd ../../../../'

# Kubernetes
alias k=kubectl
alias kctx=kubectx

# Git
alias gb='git branch'
alias gc='git checkout'
alias gcb='git checkout -b'
alias gd='git diff'
alias gds='git diff --cached'
alias gf='git fetch --prune'
alias gfa='git fetch --all --tags --prune'
alias gap='git add -p'
alias gai='git add -i'
alias gs='git status -sb'

# Docker
alias dps='docker ps --format "table {{.Names}}\t{{.Image}}\t{{.Status}}\t{{ .Ports }}\t{{.RunningFor}}\t{{.Command}}\t{{ .ID }}" | cut -c-$(tput cols)'
alias dls='docker ps -a --format "table {{.Names}}\t{{.Image}}\t{{.Status}}\t{{ .Ports }}\t{{.RunningFor}}\t{{.Command}}\t{{ .ID }}" | cut -c-$(tput cols)'
alias dim='docker images --format "table {{.Repository}}\t{{.Tag}}\t{{.ID}}\t{{.Size}}\t{{.CreatedSince}}"'
alias dgc='docker rmi $(docker images -qf "dangling=true")'
alias dvc='docker volume ls -qf dangling=true | xargs docker volume rm'
alias dtop='docker stats $(docker ps --format="{{.Names}}")'
alias dnet='docker network ls && echo && docker inspect --format "{{\$e := . }}{{with .NetworkSettings}} {{\$e.Name}}
{{range \$index, \$net := .Networks}} - {{\$index}} {{.IPAddress}}
{{end}}{{end}}" $(docker ps -q)'
alias dtag='docker inspect --format "{{.Name}}
{{range \$index, \$label := .Config.Labels}} - {{\$index}}={{\$label}}
{{end}}" $(docker ps -q)'

Improve Bash Behavior​

Prepend in your ~/.bashrc

# Bash settings
shopt -s cdspell # Auto-corrects cd misspellings
shopt -s cmdhist # Save multi-line commands in history as single line
shopt -s dotglob # Include dotfiles in pathname expansion
shopt -s expand_aliases # Expand aliases
shopt -s extglob # Enable extended pattern-matching features
shopt -s histreedit # Add failed commands to the bash history
shopt -s histappend # Append each session's history to $HISTFILE
shopt -s histverify # Edit a recalled history line before executing

if [[ $DISPLAY ]]; then
shopt -s checkwinsize # Update LINES and COLUMNS after each command

export HISTFILE="$XDG_CACHE_HOME/bash_history"
export HISTSIZE=5000
export HISTFILESIZE=1500000
export HISTTIMEFORMAT='[%F %T] '
export HISTIGNORE='pwd:jobs:ll:ls:l:fg:history:clear:exit'
export HISTCONTROL=ignoreboth
export VISUAL=vim
export PAGER=less


Append in your ~/.config/bash/completion

# Load all completions Homebrew's bash-completion@2 has prepared
if [[ -r "$HOMEBREW_PREFIX/etc/profile.d/" ]]; then
. "$HOMEBREW_PREFIX/etc/profile.d/"

# Kubernetes
complete -o default -F __start_kubectl k

# Extra macOS stuff
if [[ "$OSTYPE" == "darwin"* ]]; then
# Add tab completion for `defaults read|write NSGlobalDomain`
# You could just use `-g` instead, but I like being explicit
complete -W "NSGlobalDomain" defaults

# Add `killall` tab completion for common apps
complete -o "nospace" -W "Contacts Calendar Dock Finder Mail Safari iTunes SystemUIServer Terminal Twitter" killall

More Bash Trickery

Check-out my Bash config

in my repository.

Know Your OS Package-Manager

Hello, my name is Homebrew

brew --version

Please upgrade me from time to time...

brew update
brew outdated
brew upgrade

Install Everyone's Favorite Tools​

Don't blindly install all these tools, pick & choose!

brew install bat colordiff coreutils curl diff-so-fancy fd gnutls findutils \
lf fzf git gnupg gnu-sed gnu-tar grep htop jq kubernetes-cli kubectx less \
moreutils neovim nmap tree pidof pinfo pstree pyenv pyenv-virtualenv \
ripgrep rsync shellcheck socat stern tcpdump \
telnet unrar unzip watch wget

brew install go node yarn python pipenv
brew install git diff-so-fancy
brew install neovim
brew install kubernetes-cli kubectx stern crane
brew install tmux tmux-mem-cpu-load tmux-xpanes reattach-to-user-namespace
brew install fd ripgrep bat shellcheck

brew install rafi/tap/gits

Use Homebrew to Install macOS Apps​

Some of these are PAID apps!

brew install --cask transmission mpv dozer beyond-compare \
clipy docker iterm2 karabiner-elements \
keycastr kitty licecap marked meetingbar \
slack spotify telegram whatsapp

Install Node Tools

yarn global add reveal-md
yarn global list

Let's Fix Something​

What's the most annoying thing when using many terminal windows/tabs?

Many terminals

Shell History​

Remember shopt -s histappend from our ~/.bashrc ?

This causes shell to append each session's history to $HISTFILE, and not overwrite it.


But I want it now.β„’


Preserve bash history in multiple terminal windows:

Insert lines in ~/.bashrc BEFORE $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/utils sourcing:

# Append to history and re-read new history lines immediately
PROMPT_COMMAND="history -a; history -n; ${PROMPT_COMMAND}"

Want only to immediately append?

# Append to history immediately, but don't re-read history

Now open a few terminals, and test it!

Great Success

Let's Add Some Colors​

Remember we've installed coreutils?

We've also aliased 'dircolors' to 'gdircolors'.

The program ls uses the environment variable LS_COLORS to determine the colors in which the filenames are to be displayed.

Find a Cool LS_COLORS Theme​

Find a cool theme on the internet and move it to ~/.config/bash/dircolors

curl -LO
mv .dir_colors ~/.config/bash/dircolors


Append to your ~/.bashrc

# Load directory and file colors for GNU ls
eval "$(dircolors -b "$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/bash/dircolors")"

Open a new terminal and run:

ls -alp

You should see colorful filenames and directories.

Pimp up ls Output​

Use grc.

brew install grc
grc ls -alph

Use with netstat, ping, tail, ps, and more.

The Shell is The Best File-manager

Let's improve our speed of cd by a bazillion!

Introducing… zoxide​

After a short learning phase, zoxide will take you to the most 'frecent' directory that matches ALL the regexes given on the command line, in order.

brew info zoxide
brew install zoxide

Append to ~/.config/bash/utils

# Must be loaded _after_ setting PROMPT_COMMAND
# See
if command -v zoxide 1>/dev/null 2>&1; then
export _ZO_ECHO=1
eval "$(zoxide init bash)"

Train zoxide

zoxide has to be trained. cd into your favorite directories.

cd ~/code/work/ansible
cd ~/code/dev/myproject
cd ~/.config
cd ~/.vim

Check zoxide's listing:

$ zoxide query -sl
112.274 /Users/rafi/code/tikal/dartagnan-infra
148.375 /Users/rafi/code/dev/acme/docker-k8s-101
275.512 /Users/rafi/code/dev/acme
311.72 /Users/rafi/code/acme/pimpupyourshell
663.29 /Users/rafi/code/work/foo/autobots
21717.8 /Users/rafi/code/work/foo/autobots-k8s-onprem

Use zoxide

$ z foo auto
$ pwd

$ z prem
$ pwd

$ z dart.*infra
$ pwd

Very Nice!

grep is so Darn Slow

$ cd ~/code
$ time grep -ri bob * >/dev/null

real 1m48.005s
user 1m26.262s
sys 0m10.616s

Introducing… rg​

ripgrep recursively searches directories for a regex pattern while respecting your gitignore and doing it fast.

$ cd ~/code
$ time rg bob >/dev/null

real 0m1.120s
user 0m1.266s
sys 0m1.322s

Install rg:

brew install ripgrep

What's so great about Ripgrep?​

  • It is an order of magnitude faster than ack.
  • It ignores file patterns from your .gitignore.
  • If there are files in your source repo you don't want to search, just add their patterns to a .ignore file. (*cough* *.min.js *cough*)


You don't use passphrases for your keys?

With SSH keys, if someone gains access to your computer, they also gain access to every system that uses that key. To add an extra layer of security, you can add a passphrase to your SSH key. You can use ssh-agent to securely save your passphrase, so you don't have to reenter it.

Use ssh-agent to Remember Your Passphrases​

I don't use macOS keychain, I use a very popular one called keychain.

brew info keychain
brew install keychain

Append to your ~/.bash_profile

if hash keychain 2>/dev/null; then
eval `keychain --eval --agents ssh --inherit any --quiet id_rsa`

Read about --inherit any here.


Using the alternative keychain, every time you restart your computer, and open a new terminal, you will be asked once for the passphrase of id_rsa.

git is Glorious.

Borat Kazak

git log is Ugly​

Teach git some new pretty formats, append to ~/.gitconfig

log = %C(240)%h%C(reset) -%C(auto)%d%Creset %s %C(242)(%an %ar)
detailed = %C(cyan)%h %C(red)%ad %C(blue)[%an]%C(magenta)%d %C(white)%s
shorter = %C(auto)%D %C(240)--%C(242)%gD%N %ad by %C(white)%cn%C(reset)

Git has its own Aliases​

Teach git some new tricks: (append to ~/.gitconfig)

log = log --pretty=log
lb = log --graph --simplify-by-decoration --pretty=shorter --all --notes --date-order --relative-date
lg = log --graph --pretty=log --all
lgd = log --graph --pretty=log
lgw = !sh -c '"while true; do clear; git lg -15; sleep 5; done"'

Let's add some Bash aliases: (append to ~/.config/bash/aliases)

alias gfl='git fetch --prune && git lg -15'
alias gl='git lg -15'
alias gll='git lg'
alias gld='git lgd -15'

Try it Out

git lb
git lgw

Great visibility, great benefits. Understand repository history better.

Mooooore Git Aliases​

s = status -sb
f = fetch --prune
c = commit -v
cm = commit -vm
br = branch -v
st = status
ck = checkout
t = tag --column
tn = tag -n
d = diff
ds = diff --staged
dw = diff --color-words
dh = diff --color-words HEAD
dp = !git log --pretty=oneline | fzf | cut -d ' ' -f1 | xargs -o git show
lcrev = log --reverse --no-merges --stat @{1}..
lcp = diff @{1}..
patch = !git --no-pager diff --no-color
prune = fetch --prune
stash-all = stash save --include-untracked
sm = submodule
smu = submodule foreach git pull origin master
snapshot = !git stash save "snapshot: $(date)" && git stash apply "stash@{0}"
snapshots = !git stash list --grep snapshot
w = whatchanged --decorate
wp = whatchanged --decorate -p

Better Git Diffs​

Use diff-so-fancy

Diff-so-fancy comparison

Diff So Fancy​

brew info diff-so-fancy
brew install diff-so-fancy

Edit your ~/.gitconfig

show-branch = true
status = true
diff = diff-so-fancy | less --tabs=1,3
show = diff-so-fancy | less --tabs=1,3

More Git Trickery

Check-out my git/config

in my repository.

Other Great Tools​

Thank you.

Rafael Bodill


justRafi at da g mail dot com