Sam Winslow

The 3 Best Things I've Done For My Terminal Experience

Feb. 13, 2021

Fig, zsh, and Dark+: A Simple and Productive Terminal Setup on OSX

I recently got some unexpected love on Twitter for a simple GIF illustrating my day-to-day terminal setup on OSX:

Some of you were curious to learn more about the exact setup, so I'll describe it here! It's a few more than 3 tweaks, but who's counting?

  • OSX built-in Terminal application. I know many people swear by iTerm, and luckily the rest of this setup will also support that. Personally, I've found that Apple's terminal does everything I need.
    • What's even better than iTerm's split windows feature? Split windows everywhere, managed by keyboard shortcuts. Check out the Spectacle window manager (Still works, but deprecated—the maintainers recommend Rectangle.)
  • Fig autocomplete. Fig is a YC-backed company that makes a context layer for the Terminal that adds autocomplete, apps, and shortcuts as desired.
    • Autocomplete specifications have to be manually defined, although the most common commands you might need, like git, npm, and docker, to name a few, come with the app. You can define your own specs in this open-source repository. I contributed a spec for Yarn!
  • zsh with oh-my-zsh. oh-my-zsh adds a pretty prompt and more semantic coloring overall. Like Fig, it also has a strong community and tons of extensions.
    • See a list of themes here—I'm using agnoster which shows the working directory and Git branch by default. It's also very easily customizable.
    • The other great feature of oh-my-zsh is the git alias plugin, which allows you to type ga instead of git add, gcmsg instead of git commit -m grh instead of git reset HEAD, and so much more. Even though Fig's Git autocomplete support helps out somewhat, nothing beats a 2-letter command if you're going to use it a hundred times in a day.
  • Dark+ color scheme to match what I use in VSCode. The oh-my-zsh themes are awesome, but since most of them use color by default, it can add a lot of visual noise to your terminal experience. I chose to make a custom OSX Terminal profile that uses the color values from the default dark scheme in VSCode which has nice muted pastels. Dark+ color scheme in OSX Terminal You can download the profile here. Note that you'll want to install the customized version of your preferred monospaced font if you're also going to use Agnoster. (Here, it's Hack Regular.)
  • Another note on colors: it sounds trivial, but having a slightly transparent terminal window has a functional purpose, too, especially if you're on a laptop with limited screen space. For example, if I have my terminal open side-by-side with my text editor, and DevTools is behind it, I can see that there are some errors and warnings I should check out even before I tab over to it. Errors visible behind the Terminal The red blocks on the left mean that maybe something I did in the terminal or my text editor screwed something up in the webapp. Instant feedback is better than even a tiny delay.

Thanks for checking this out, and I hope it was helpful! Tweet me a picture of your own setup, I'd love to see it.

— Sam

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