The terminal is the tool I use the most in my day-to-day work. Over the years, I’ve created a series of shortcuts, scripts, and habits that make me more productive in performing many of my tasks. In this post, I will tell you some of the things I’ve set up and been using to inspire someone else to take the time to do the same.
The shell is the interface we interact with when we open a terminal session. The default shell for most Linux distributions and macOS was the good old
bash for decades, but some competitors have gained prominence in recent years. The most relevant is zsh, now the default for macOS and many Linux distros. I used zsh for a while, but discovered fish in a tweet by Carlos Becker, tried it, and didn’t come back back.
fish is lighter and faster than zsh (empirical fact, it’s my impression as I haven’t done or read benchmarks) and comes with lots of features built-in utilities like faster auto-complete, wildcards for browsing directories, between many other.
Hint: since macOS defaults to
zsh, I ran the following command to install
brew install fish
And the command to set it as my default shell:
chsh -s /opt/homebrew/bin/fish
Saving the settings
On Unix derivatives (Linux and macOS, for example), the primary way to maintain application configuration is by using
dotfiles, files that start with a dot in the name. The most exciting thing about this is that it’s easy to make changes and backups of your settings. So I keep these files in a cloud service, like Dropbox, and configure my machine to use these files using symbolic links.
These are some of my machine’s configuration files:
❯ ls -lha ~/ | grep Dropbox lrwxr-xr-x 1 eminetto staff 36B 10 Mai 2022 .aws -> /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/aws lrwxr-xr-x 1 eminetto staff 43B 10 Mai 2022 .gitconfig -> /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/.gitconfig lrwxr-xr-x 1 eminetto staff 30B 10 Mai 2022 .gnupg -> /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/gnupg/ lrwxr-xr-x 1 eminetto staff 28B 10 Mai 2022 .ssh -> /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/ssh/
As I use
fish, I also did the same with its configuration files:
❯ ls -lha ~/.config | grep Dropbox lrwxr-xr-x 1 eminetto staff 37B 10 Mai 2022 fish -> /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/fish
To facilitate the creation of these files, I created a script that I use whenever I need to change computers:
cd ~ ln -s /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/aws .aws ln -s /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/.gitconfig .gitconfig ln -s /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/gnupg/ .gnupg ln -s /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/ssh/ .ssh ln -s /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/sshw .sshw ln -s /Users/eminetto/Dropbox/dotfiles/fish .config/fish
This way, I quickly have the settings applied to my apps.
Another powerful feature in the terminal is creating aliases. As the name suggests, they are shortcuts to commands that speed up your productivity. These are some I am currently using:
❯ alias alias cot 'open /Applications/CotEditor.app/' alias d docker alias dc 'docker compose' alias dcdown 'docker compose stop' alias dcup 'docker-compose up -d' alias g git alias icloud cd\\\ /Users/eminetto/Library/Mobile\\\\\\\ Documents/com\\\~apple\\\~CloudDocs/ alias k kubectl alias kb kubectl alias ls 'ls -G' alias open-ports netstat\\\ -anvp\\\ tcp\\\ \\\|\\\ awk\\\ \\\'NR\\\<3\\\ \\\|\\\|\\\ /LISTEN/\\\' alias py3 python3 alias subl /Applications/Sublime\\\\\\\ Text.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/subl
To save an
fish, just run:
alias -s icloud="cd xxx"
And this will save the configuration in the
~/.config/fish directory. Each shell has a command for this, and I recommend researching how to do this in yours.
Another place you can add shortcuts is in the
~/.gitconfig file. These are some that I created:
[alias] cleanup = "!git fetch --all --prune; git branch --merged origin/master | grep -v \"\\*\" | grep -v \"\\ master\" | xargs -n 1 git branch -d" s = status d = diff co = checkout br = branch c = commit
This way, I can combine the fish alias with git. Instead of typing:
git commit -m "message"
I can run:
g c -m "message"
And I save a few seconds with each command :)
Another git-related tip I’m using is setting
1Password to sign my commits. In this documentation, you can see how to do this.
Customizing the prompt
As I commented at the beginning of this post, the shell is the interface with which we interact with the operating system. And interfaces should be user-friendly and beautiful. One way to achieve this is by using a tool that allows customizations, and the tip I want to leave here is Starship. It is an application made in Rust, and we can use it in any shell to allow customizations of the prompt. The prompt is the input where we type the commands to be executed by the operational system. Installation and configuration are straightforward, as seen on the project’s page. Once installed, configure the
~/.config/starship.toml file. For example, the configuration:
[aws] disabled = true [cmake] disabled = true [cmd_duration] min_time = 500 format = "[$duration]($style) " [conda] disabled = true [crystal] disabled = true [dart] disabled = true [docker_context] disabled = true [dotnet] disabled = true [elixir] disabled = true [elm] disabled = true [env_var] disabled = true [erlang] disabled = true [gcloud] disabled = true [golang] disabled = true [helm] disabled = true [java] disabled = true [jobs] disabled = true [julia] disabled = true [kotlin] disabled = true [kubernetes] format = '[☸ $context \($namespace\)](dimmed green) ' disabled = false [lua] disabled = true [memory_usage] disabled = true threshold = -1 symbol = ' ' style = 'bold dimmed green' [nim] disabled = true [nix_shell] disabled = true [nodejs] disabled = true [ocaml] disabled = true [openstack] disabled = true [package] disabled = true [perl] disabled = true [php] disabled = true [purescript] disabled = true [python] disabled = true [ruby] disabled = true [rust] disabled = true [scala] disabled = true [shlvl] disabled = true [singularity] disabled = true [swift] disabled = true [status] style = 'bg:blue' symbol = '🔴 ' success_symbol = '🟢 SUCCESS' format = '[\[$symbol$common_meaning$signal_name$maybe_int\]]($style) ' map_symbol = true disabled = false [terraform] disabled = true [vagrant] disabled = true [zig] disabled = true [username] format = "[$user]($style)@"
It generates the following visual in my terminal:
So, in the picture:
rancher-desktopis the name of the Kubernetes cluster the user is connected to
votesis the name of the Kubernetes
api-o11yis the name of the directory the user is in
add-metricsis the name of the git branch
[!]indicates that there have been changes in the current
branch, the equivalent of a `git status
5sis the time it took to execute the last command
🟢 SUCCESSindicates the status of the last command the user executed.
In Starship’s documentation, you can see all possible configurations.
My goal with this post is to help and inspire you to customize and optimize your terminal. I guarantee it will be fun and improve your performance daily. Enjoy and share your tips, too; I would love to add new tricks to my workflow :)