How to Customize your Terminal Prompt
Whether you use the Terminal occasionally or regularly, you might find it appropriate to change the way it looks beyond the color scheme and transparency settings. How about changing the actual command line prompt? It’s quite easy, and can be a fun way to further customize your Macs appearance. This how-to will involve some really minor usage of the command line, which we assume you’re somewhat familiar with if you are wanting to change the way it looks.
The default command line prompt in Mac OS X is something like:
Kind of boring and not the best, right? It’s quite easy to change. We’re going to assume you use the default bash shell, so you’ll be editing either the file .bashrc by default, or .profile if you installed fink. At the Terminal prompt, type:
export PS1=" "
Between the quotation marks, you can add the following lines to customize your Terminal prompt:
- \d – Current date
- \t – Current time
- \h – Host name
- \# – Command number
- \u – User name
- \W – Current working directory (ie: Desktop/)
- \w – Current working directory, full path (ie: /Users/Admin/Desktop)
So, let’s say you want your Terminal prompt to display the User, followed by the hostname, followed by the directory, the .bashrc entry would be:
export PS1="\u@\h\w$ "
which will look like:
Cool huh? You can also change the prompt itself to anything, it doesn’t have to be the $ sign, simply replace it with whatever else you’d like to use, : for example would be:
export PS1="\u@\h\w: "
which is the same as above, but : instead of $
So, play around and see what you prefer. By the way, if you’re new to the Terminal text editor nano, you save a file by hitting control-o, and you exit the file and program by hitting control-x. You can also just use a standard text editor, like TextWrangler or TextEdit.
If you’d rather change things to look more graphical, there’s also a simple how-to designed to make your Terminal prompt include an emoji character (yes, the same emoji icons that people use for text messaging), you can read there here if you are interested.