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macOS Terminal and zsh

Since some time ago I use iTerm2 as a replacement for the default macOS Terminal application. I was not very happy because I prefer not to add too many pieces of software but I had a couple of reasons for that:

  1. iTerm2 allowed to move between tabs with ⌘+number. This was something I was used to do because of Gnome Terminal
    • You can do this now with macOS default Terminal
  2. Copy and paste with the mouse was easier
    • I found out you can use ⌘ + right click. And probably can configure Terminal for a different behaviour
  3. iTerm2 was way more configurable
    • This is something I can live without. And I can install tmux from brew

Time passed and this is not necessarily true anymore. But another change came in: zsh as default shell instead of bash, again with its own caveats.

Grrrrr 😡

One especially annoying issue was that I was not able to delete directories in a path with esc+delete, as I’ve been doing for years. I really had to fix that!

Let’s see if these issues can be fixed.

Profile and fonts

First things first.

  • I duplicated the Basic profile as Personal
  • Make it the default profile
  • Changed the font to Monaco 14
  • Add path to the window name
  • Window size: 80x25
  • Shell: when the shell exits:
    • Close the window
  • Color
    • Make background black, 90% opacity, 10% blur. More or less :)
  • Default
    • Select Personal on startup

Terminal Color


Why zsh?

From macOS Catalina, zsh is the default shell for macOS. bash is deprecated and, since I spend quite some time in front of a Mac, I decided to accept bash’s fate.

I hate frameworks like zim or oh my zsh -they just make things more complicated- so they are not the reason behind using zsh.

tuning zsh

Create a .zshrc file:

alias ls="ls -G"
alias ll="ls -l"
PROMPT='%F{2}%n@%B%F{cyan}%1~%f%b %# '
export PATH="/usr/local/opt/python/libexec/bin:$PATH"
The PATH line is there because of python being installed via homebrew

Annoyances and -hopefully- fixes

Can’t delete part of the path with esc+delete

Fixed adding:


to .zshrc. The character “/” is removed from the default list of chars that can be part of a word. Remove any other one (i.e. “.”) if required.

Move between words in Terminal

Use ⌥ + arrows (I think this is by default)


For the autocomplete feature to work, add this to the .zshrc:

autoload -Uz compinit && compinit
You may get an error if you have insecure writable directories. To check and fix this condition:
% autoload -Uz compinit && compinit
zsh compinit: insecure directories, run compaudit for list.
Ignore insecure directories and continue [y] or abort compinit [n]?

# Find out the offending directories:
% compaudit
There are insecure directories:

# Fix with:
% chmod 755 /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions /usr/local/share/zsh


Once I upgrade to Big Sur (I usually install from scratch instead of upgrading) I may be able to get rid of iTerm2.



Funny enough, two days after writing this post I read about Kali Linux switches to zsh as default shell. Perfect timing!

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