Customizing your macOS Terminal

Customizing your macOS Terminal

As a developer or DevOp, you're likely to spend a lot of time in the Terminal, and you've probably already customized its appearance to suit you, but what about the prompt name?

The text that appears before the $ sign is the Terminal prompt name. This, by default, is set to.



This can take up a lot of valuable real estate on each line of the Terminal, depending on what you've named your computer. To change the default prompt, you'll need to make a change to your .bash_profile file.

Open up a new Terminal window and type the following command to ensure we're in the home directory

cd ~/

Type ls -la to show the contents of your Home directory and check if a .bash_profile exists.

If it does not exists, go ahead and create one with the command

touch .bash_profile

Changing your Terminal prompt

Edit '.bash_profile' with your default or favorite text editor, in my case it's Vim, with the following command

vi .bash_profile

press i (insert) and enter the following line

export PS1="\u$ "

and save by tapping esc key and type in :wq,(FYI: this is specific to the Vim editor). The \u flag sets the prompt to your username (in my case, Abayomi). Remember to keep a space after the $ symbol to make things easier to read in practice.

Quit Terminal and relaunch to see your new prompt in action.

A little extra

With a little extra customization, my line looks like the following

export PS1="\u ~ >> "

and I ended uo with the following prompt


More Options for customizing the prompt

The following are a few common flags you can use to customize your Terminal prompt:

\d – Current date
\t – Current time
\h – Hostname
# – Command number
\u – User name

Going further

There are several options for customizing your Terminal prompt including custom strings, timestamps colors and even emoji