MacOS Terminal and Shell Setup with configuration files

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Make your Terminal beautifully efficient

Mac Terminal Power User

This article details my personnal configuration. Feel free to suggest improvements in the comments! You can get my configuration files at the end of this article.

The videos of my terminal are recorded with Asciinema. You can pause a video and copy-paste the texts!

The vast majority of things here would work for Linux.

  1. Terminal: iTerm2
    1. Colors
    2. Enable Word Jump
  2. Shell: ZSH
    1. Plugins: Oh-My-ZSH
    2. Theme: Spaceship
    3. Suggestions
    4. Configuration
    5. Useful alias
    6. Useful function
  3. Command-line Text Editor: micro
  4. Python
    1. Configuration
    2. IDE
  5. Tmux
  6. My conf files

Terminal: iTerm2

The Terminal app is not so bad. But you could have a better terminal: iTerm2. You can find the pros and cons here but basically it’s more customizable.


For instance you don’t have to stick with the few (ugly) default themes. The iTerm community has designed hundreds! Check them out: To install them:

$ git clone wherever you want then in iTerm2 go to preferences > profiles > colors > color preset > import... then chose the cloned folder and its shemes folder. You should see a buch of files like deep.itermcolors: just select them all and click on open. There you go! I use Tomorrow Night.

Enable Word Jump

Usually option + → sends the cursor at the end of the current word. This is not enabled by default in iTerm. To enable it: preferences > profiles > keys > load preset > Natural Text Editing

Shell: ZSH

The shell on your Mac is most probably an old bash. You got used to it. You don’t even know how much struggle you could avoid by using an other shell and extensions!

I recomment you switch to zsh in lieu of bash and use the oh-my-zsh extensions to get cool features as:

  • autocompletion on path $ cd d then hitting tab would let you choose between Documents/ and Downloads/
    • using only tab and enter you’ll get around your computer much quicker!
    • no case-sensitivity
  • z plugin -> z tracks all the locations you go to and ranks them (roughly) by frequency. So if you often go to ~/github/vict0rsch/, then from any location $ z io would get you there!
  • cool themes! you can colorize your shell to emphasize information, show the current status of a git repo (info like there are files are to be added, modifications not committed or commits not pushed)
    • see which version of python and which virtual env is currently active etc.

And even more cool stuff! Here is a demo of what you could get in a few minutes:

Notice how the command prompt changes, showing the git branch (source), the git status (files to track, changes to commit and commits to push with ? ! and ), the current python version and the time I spent in python! (gst stands for git status and gp for git push, these are part of the git plugin in oh-my-zsh).

Plugins: Oh-My-ZSH

First install ZSH then install oh-my-zsh. The configuration is set in ~/.zshrc. Check out mine at the end for detailed use!

Theme: Spaceship

Need 2 things: powerline fonts and spaceship.

Then in your .zshrc configure the theme: ZSH_THEME="spaceship".

You’ll need to activate the compatible fonts so in the iTerm preferences go to preferences > profiles > text there change the font to a powerline-compatible font (use the powerline key-word in the top right search box). Then verify that “use a different font for non-ASCII characters” is NOT checked.


Make ZSH suggest commands with zsh-autosuggestions

git clone $ZSH_CUSTOM/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions then we’ll add it to the plugin list in the next section


  • HYPHEN_INSENSITIVE="true" to make - and _ interchangeable for ZSH’s completion

  • plugins=(git, z, osx, sudo, brew, dirhistory, zsh-autosuggestions) Check the available plugins in Oh-my-zsh’s wiki

  • SPACESHIP_PROMPT_ORDER=(time, user, dir, host, git, aws, venv, pyenv, exec_time, line_sep, battery, jobs, exit_code, char) to get rid of things I do not use, see more in the docs

  • More spaceship conf:

SPACESHIP_CHAR_SYMBOL="╍ᗇ " #beginning of the line
SPACESHIP_PROMPT_ADD_NEWLINE=true #add line to prompt
SPACESHIP_TIME_SHOW=true #show execution time of the previous command if it's longer than usual
SPACESHIP_DIR_PREFIX='| ' #between the time and the dir you are currently in
SPACESHIP_PYENV_PREFIX='› ' #before your pyenv python version
SPACESHIP_PYENV_SYMBOL='🐍  '#symbol of pyenv python version
SPACESHIP_PYENV_COLOR=blue #color of pyenv python version
SPACESHIP_DIR_TRUNC=0 #show all dirs, don't truncate to the last 3 or whatever
SPACESHIP_DIR_TRUNC_REPO=true #if in a git repo -> show dirs with respect to the repo's root

Useful alias

alias conf='micro ~/.zshrc'
alias src='source ~/.zshrc'
alias mi='micro'
alias fs='du -hs * | gsort -h' #print size of current files and directories in the current directory, sorted by size
alias op='open .' #open current folder in the macOS Finder

alias cdp='cd ..'#quicker to type in :p
alias ignore='micro .gitignore'

alias ip='ifconfig | grep "inet " | grep -v 127' #get your ip address
alias wifi='networksetup -setairportpower en0' #wifi on and wifi off shortcuts

alias pm='python'
alias ipy="python -c 'import IPython; IPython.terminal.ipapp.launch_new_instance()'" #user the powerline in the iPython shell
alias activate="source \$(ls */bin/activate)" # to activate a virtual environment (redundant with autoenv)

If you’re going to use gsort from the fs alias, do install coreutils first: brew install coreutils

Useful function

function coam (){
	git commit -a -m $1
} # "coam 'hello' " will commit all pending documents with a message of "hello"

function cds () {
	cd $1;
} # "cds ~/Documents" goes there and lists the files

function tb () {
	tensorboard --logdir=$1;

Command-line Text Editor: micro

“Micro is a terminal-based text editor that aims to be easy to use and intuitive, while also taking advantage of the full capabilities of modern terminals.” (

It has full mouse support and usual shortcuts (with control): ^ + c to copy, ^ + v to paste etc.

Also, syntax highlighting!

brew install micro


I manage Python versions with pyenv. Great advantage is the variety of versions at the tip of your fingers and their hierarchical management : you can set a global version, a bit like a default, a local wich may vary per folder or a shell version, defined once per shell via an environment variable.

Of course I use virtualenv to avoid library conflicts and useless imports. To activate them automatically when you get into a folder, install autoenv.

With these, adding a .env file in the folder that should use the virtualenv will automatically start it: autoenv will execute whatever is written in this file so echo "source ./myenv/bin/activate" > .env will do the trick! You can also add environment variables in this .env file.


A few lines should be added to your .zshrc for pyenv and autoenv to work correctly:

export PATH="/Users/victor/.pyenv:$PATH"
eval "$(pyenv init -)"

source /usr/local/opt/autoenv/


I use Visual Code as it is pretty complete yet lightweight. git source control is very well embedded in the editor, there are plenty of extensions and everything is customizable. I know also a lot of people using Pycharm.

I also use Visual Code for Web Development (React, Markdown for this blog, Flask).


Tmux is a way to run proccesses which do not depend on your shell being active. So if you close the terminal, the process will continue. If you work remotely and the SSH connection is broken the remote process will not stop. Then you just need to grab it back!

Tmux has sessions which have windows (a bit like the terminal’s tabs) and windows can be split into panes.

So tmux new -s test starts a session called test then ^f c creates a new window in the session, ^f , renames the current window shift + arrow navigates through windows ^f : opens tmux’s console (kill-session could be useful for instance or source ~/.tmux.conf), ^f v splits the current window vertically into panes and ^f arrow navigates through the panes. If youy close the terminal and open a new one, tmux a -t test to grab it back.

My conf files

These files should lie in your home folder: