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My Zsh Config

5 min read

I’ve always bundled in my Zsh config with other guides I’ve done in the past and never a stand alone post. So I’m making this now for my reference.

I switched to Zsh around two years ago after being a long time Fish shell user. The reason for the switch? I found Zsh to be a bit simpler to configure. I’m by no means a power user but I like to have my own perferred configuration.

Install Zsh

Depending on your platform (I use Ubuntu on Windows Subsystem for Linux - WSL) you can install Zsh with the following:

sudo apt install zsh

If you’re on macOS and use Brew you can install Zsh with the following:

brew install zsh

I’ve covered installing Zsh and Oh My Zsh on Fedora in another guide as well.

Install Oh My Zsh

Zsh has a framework that you can use with it called Oh My Zsh this adds a lot of functionality to the shell, more on this in the guide.

Installing Oh My Zsh is as simple as:

sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/master/tools/install.sh)"

Once installed you will have a ~/.zshrc file that you can edit to add additional functionality to the shell.

The ~ here represents the home directory of your current logged in user. So if you were to do cd ~ you would be in your home directory.

One of the joys of Zsh is that many commands are contextual so the cd ~ can be shortened to ~.

Another nice one is changing directories, in bash you’d need to cd .. to go back a directory. In Zsh you can use .. to go back a directory. To go back three directories you can use ....

Anyway, the default .zshrc file is filled with helpful comments to guide you through its usage.

If you cat out the contents of the .zshrc (with cat ~/.zshrc) file you’ll see something similar to what I just linked.

You can edit the .zshrc file with your text editor of choice, I use nano but you can use any text editor, VS Code even, use code ~/.zshrc from the terminal to start editing with VS Code.

Oh My Zsh configuration

So if we take a look at my current configuration, it’s a bit sparse compared to the default file you get:

# Path to your oh-my-zsh installation.
export ZSH="$HOME/.oh-my-zsh"

# See https://github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/wiki/Themes
ZSH_THEME="spaceship"

plugins=(
  git
  zsh-syntax-highlighting
  zsh-autosuggestions
)

source $ZSH/oh-my-zsh.sh

# User configuration

# auto suggest
ZSH_AUTOSUGGEST_HIGHLIGHT_STYLE="fg=#663399,standout"

# starting dir
cd ~/repos

# nvm config
export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh" ] && . "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh"  # This loads nvm
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && . "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"  # This loads nvm bash_completion

#-------- Global Alias {{{
globalias() {
  if [[ $LBUFFER =~ '[a-zA-Z0-9]+$' ]]; then
    zle _expand_alias
    zle expand-word
  fi
  zle self-insert
}
zle -N globalias
bindkey " " globalias                 # space key to expand globalalias
# bindkey "^ " magic-space            # control-space to bypass completion
bindkey "^[[Z" magic-space            # shift-tab to bypass completion
bindkey -M isearch " " magic-space    # normal space during searches
. ~/.zsh_aliases
#}}}

SPACESHIP_PROMPT_ADD_NEWLINE="true"
SPACESHIP_CHAR_SYMBOL="⚡"

# Turn off power status when using spaceship prompt
export SPACESHIP_BATTERY_SHOW=false

There’s quite a bit in there I know, so that’s my full file, really all that I’m using from the default config is this:

# Path to your oh-my-zsh installation.
export ZSH="$HOME/.oh-my-zsh"

# See https://github.com/ohmyzsh/ohmyzsh/wiki/Themes
ZSH_THEME="spaceship"

plugins=(
  git
  zsh-syntax-highlighting
  zsh-autosuggestions
)

source $ZSH/oh-my-zsh.sh

And that has been augmented with some plugins with the spaceship theme and the zsh-syntax-highlighting and zsh-autosuggestions plugins.

Adding plugins and themes

I’ll cover them now zsh-syntax-highlighting is syntax highlighting for the shell, so if you type out a command that’s not recognised it will show the command in red and it will also give syntax highlighting to commands entered into the shell.

zsh-autosuggestions will show previously typed in commands to help with auto completion.

Finally I’m a massive fan of the spaceship prompt back from my Fish shell days!

I’ve linked the repositories for them which will have install instructions, I’m going to list out the installation I use here:

# zsh-syntax-highlighting
git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-syntax-highlighting.git ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-syntax-highlighting
# zsh-autosuggestions
git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-autosuggestions ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions

Once the plugins are installed I’ll add them to the plugins array:

plugins=(
  git
  zsh-syntax-highlighting
  zsh-autosuggestions
)

For Zsh autosuggest there’s a variable that I set that highlights the background of the suggested command, that need to go into the ~/.zshrc file as detailed my configuration:

ZSH_AUTOSUGGEST_HIGHLIGHT_STYLE="fg=#663399,standout"

Then install the Zsh theme for spaceship with:

# clone the repo to the Zsh custom theme directory
git clone https://github.com/denysdovhan/spaceship-prompt.git "$ZSH_CUSTOM/themes/spaceship-prompt" --depth=1
# symlink it
ln -s "$ZSH_CUSTOM/themes/spaceship-prompt/spaceship.zsh-theme" "$ZSH_CUSTOM/themes/spaceship.zsh-theme"

And set the theme in the ~/.zshrc file:

ZSH_THEME="spaceship"

There’s a UPower-WARNING you might see in the terminal, this is looking for the battery meter, if you’re not using a laptop this may cause some confusion, there’s a workaround for it.

The error message looks something like this:

(upower:185): UPower-WARNING **: 18:38:44.618: Cannot connect to upowerd: Could not connect: No such file or directory

There’s a post on Miguel Alex Cantu’s blog about this and there’s a spaceship config option for it.

# nano ~/.zshrc
# Turn off power status when using spaceship prompt
export SPACESHIP_BATTERY_SHOW=false

Starting directory

As I’m a WSL user I like to set the starting directory in my ~/.zshrc file. You might not need to do this depending on your setup.

nvm

I’m an nvm user, this means I can switch between different versions of node, after running the install command here:

curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.39.0/install.sh | zsh
source ~/.zshrc
command -v nvm
# sets default to 14
nvm install 14
# nvm alias default 14

This configuration gets added to the ~/.zshrc file:

export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh" ] && . "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh"  # This loads nvm
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && . "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"  # This loads nvm bash_completion

Global aliases

Global aliases I learned from a great video from gotbletu on YouTube!

Check it out! More details on the Zsh and Oh My Zsh post I did at the end of 2020.

I have a list of global aliases I like to use in my dotfiles on github.

Wrapping up

That’s it! My very own Zsh configuration! Like I said at the start this is mainly for my reference, but, if you have read through it and found it usefull then that’s a massive win for me! Thank you 🙏

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