OS X is awesome for command line stuff, that’s why real programmers
love it. But some of the defaults Apple have used make me sad. Where are all
the colours? I demand my
ls command be pretty and colourful! Why is Vim
so bland? While we’re at it, can’t ping lick my eyeballs more?
Good news: yes, they can! I’ve stuck some tips together so I can remind myself what to do when I inevitably reinstall my system for some pointless reason, and for any new Mac users out there. It is near peak commercial season after all, and I’m sure you’ve been good little boys and girls.
Let’s start with the simple things.
Add these lines to your
.bash_profile file which is in your home directory:
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Now when you use
ls, folders and executables will appear in different
colours from normal files, and when you use grep to find text in files, the
matches will be highlighted.
You can change the colours used by
ls via the
variable. For example:
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Here’s a handy website you can use to define your
http://geoff.greer.fm/lscolors/. It also
LS_COLORS definitions, useful if you’re a Linux user. One thing
to note, though, is that the colours you will see in your terminal depend on
the particular theme you are using. Which brings me to my next tip.
Using A Better Terminal Theme
If you haven’t changed the default terminal theme you must still be gazing in to the snowy wasteland that is the default. This is insane. Programmers are incompatible with white backgrounds. Er, except in blogs. *cough*
Changing the terminal theme is marginally trickier than it should be. Here’s how you do it:
- Go to
- Select the
- Pick something nice that doesn’t sear your retinas.
- At the bottom of the list box, click
Defaultso that new terminals will open with the selected colour scheme.
Anything other than the default is a good start, but there are better themes out there than those bundled with Lion. At the moment, my colour scheme of choice is Solarized. You can get a Solarized scheme for OS X’s Terminal from here:
If you are running Lion, ignore the README at the site. All you have to do to
install the theme is to open the
*.terminal file. That should be enough to
make it appear in the themes list in the preferences dialog, where you can set
it as default.
Which, niftily, brings me on to my next section.
Making Vim Pretty
Much as I’ve rallied against Vim over the years, Vizio360 and Rev. Kachowski have now drugged me sufficiently to admit that it’s pretty damn nice really. If you can handle memorising π to 300 digits, then you should be fine with Vim shortcuts. On the other hand if you’re like me, you may want to use a cheatsheet.
However, we aren’t here to learn, we’re here to colourise. So, in order
to make Vim a bit more colourful on OS X, copy the example
to your home directory:
cp /usr/share/vim/vim73/vimrc_example.vim ~/.vimrc
Now you can enjoy pretty colours in Vim. If you want to add Solarized as your colour theme in Vim, I recommend installing the rather fantastic pathogen.vim in your .vimrc (instructions) and then follow the instructions for “Option 2” in vim-colors-solarized README.
Making Nano Pretty
If Nano is your Terminal text editor weapon of choice, then you can
enable syntax colouring by uncommenting the syntax files referenced in
/etc/nanorc. First, open it for editing:
sudo nano /etc/nanorc
Move to the bottom of the file and then remove the
at the beginning of the lines which include other
*.nanorc files. For
Further Eyeball Licking via Homebrew
For the next tip, I recommend using Homebrew as the method of installation. If you aren’t using Homebrew yet, you probably should be. It’s by far the Most Awesome package manager available for OS X. So go install it:
Installed? Good. Let us continue.
brew install grc
NOTE: If you followed the first tip and created a
rather than appending the command to load grc to your
you want to append it to your
.bash_profile file instead:
echo 'source "`brew --prefix grc`/etc/grc.bashrc"' >> ~/.bash_profile
If you are confused as to why, it’s because the logic Bash uses for loading these files is non-obvious. For a good description of the load sequence, read Execution sequence for .bash_profile, .bashrc, .bash_login, .profile and .bash_logout by Ramesh Natarajan.
After you have added that line to your
.bash_profile, either start a new
session, or reload the profile:
Now when you use certain commands such as traceroute, the output should be colourised:
Or you can call
head using grc to colourise log output:
That’s all Folks!
Well, that’s all I have for now. If anyone has any other good ones, stick them in a comment below.