// 5 Tips to Improve Your Stale Terminal · Learning With Data

5 Tips to Improve Your Stale Terminal

Jan 2, 2020 03:39 · 630 words · 3 minute read terminal

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You don’t know it, but your terminal right now is more like a go-cart when you could have a Ferarri.

I will show you some great tools to take your command line to the next level.


If you are on Mac and using the default terminal. Stop. Go and install iTerm2.

iTerm2 has so many great features including:

  • Easy to split panes to have multiple terminals on one screen
  • Search within your terminal
  • Autocomplete
  • Profiles
  • 256 colors so it looks beautiful
  • Smart selection — making it easy to copy the text you most likely wanted in one click
  • Extensive customization options

Once you have it downloaded, take some time to poke around and learn about all the options. Out of the box, though, it is a huge upgrade and has great defaults.


Zsh is an enhanced version of bash which basically gives you a bunch of additional features to make your life easier when navigating the command line. Here are a few:

  • Automatic cd — you just type the name of the directory and it changes directory without needing cd.
  • Path expansion with correction — if you don’t remember the pathname, but think “re” was in there somewhere, just type “re” hit tab and zsh will expand with all possibilities. Even if “re” is in the middle of the pathname. It will also autocorrect spelling errors.
  • Plugins and themes — which make it easy to add more functionality and beauty.

To get started, I would check out zprezto. It will automatically set up a lot of nice defaults and features for you as well as provide easy to use themes. Here is one:

Already looking so much nicer than your default terminal.

To check out other themes, follow these steps:

  1. For a list of themes, type prompt -l.
  2. To preview a theme, type prompt -p name.
  3. Load the theme you like in ~/.zpreztorc then open a new Zsh terminal window or tab.

Also, You can see a list of all the modules you can turn on here. I would make sure to check out the git and editor modules. These will allow you to get git integration in your terminal as well as turn on various editors such as vim or emacs. I love being able to use vim commands within the terminal.


Solarized will add beautiful color schemes that have been extensively researched to give you great contrast which makes your command line easy to read and great looking.

Here is the link for installation with iTerm2.

Source Code Pro

It turns out that not all fonts are created equal when it comes to programming. In fact, many fonts have been created just for programmers. My current favorite is Source Code Pro with Powerline.

Source code pro is the font and powerline provides additional status line graphics which iTerm can use for various applications such as vim and zsh.

This font is part of Adobe’s open-source library and thus is free to use. You can change your iTerm2 font in your preferences after you download and install the fonts from the link above.

Syntax Highlighting

Who doesn’t love syntax highlighting? It makes everything easier to read and is quick to install for zsh. If you don’t have Homebrew, go and install it.

Then run this command:

brew install zsh-syntax-highlighting

That’s it! Now you just restart your terminal and enjoy syntax highlighting!

At this point, you should feel like you are driving a Ferrari every time you open your terminal. You should see a beautiful command line that has been customized to provide you the optimal coding experience. You will probably find it hard to not show it off to your friends. 😊

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