The Terminal application is your true friend in the macOS command line world. It offers an interface with a shell that interprets your commands and then implements them.

One can imagine what kind of squall of criticism can be heard in response to the statement that the standard type of command line is just boring. Well, okay, boring, so boring.

In this article I will tell you how with just a few simple tricks of customization, the Terminal’s color palette can be significantly expanded and unified. Which, by the way, can simplify the reading of textual information.

Modify Bash Prompt, Enable Colors, Improve ‘ls’

For the required minimum, let’s improve the prompt string, diversify the output of the ls command, and turn on the display of colors. All this can be done by editing the contents of the .bash_profile or .bashrc file, which is located in the home directory.

In this example, consider the work with the first file:

  • Open Terminal and type:
nano .bash_profile
How to Improve the Terminal in macOS?
  • Insert the following lines:
export PS1="\[\033[36m\]\u\[\033[m\]@\[\033[32m\]\h:\[\033[33;1m\]\w\[\033[m\]\$ "
export CLICOLOR=1
export LSCOLORS=ExFxBxDxCxegedabagacad
alias ls='ls -GFh'
How to Improve the Terminal in macOS?
  • Press the Control + O keys to save the changes, and the Control + X keys to exit the nano editor.

Change the Window Size by Default

The terminal is not perfect. The text of the commands is typed in small print, it is difficult to analyze, and sometimes the cursor is not easy to find. Yes, the window size can be increased – but macOS will “forget” your settings immediately after you close the application.

To make the Terminal window more convenient:

  • Click Terminal -> Preferences in the menu bar at the top, with the terminal open;
  • Choose Profiles -> Window section, specify more convenient values ​​for you in the Columns and Rows;
  • Confirm your choice with the Enter key.
How to Improve the Terminal in macOS?

Change the Background

In the same Profiles tab, the available terminal themes will be indicated – they can be used to change the appearance of the Terminal beyond recognition.

And of course, we could change Background Color or set up a Picture like a wallpaper.

How to Improve the Terminal in macOS?

How to Change the Text

The creators of the Terminal have built in the application the necessary tools to customize the system text for themselves.

For example, to change the font and – most importantly! – its size is enough to click the Change button in the Text Settings section.

Read more: How to Open Finder from Terminal and More

There are options to turn bold on or off, use smoothed fonts, change the color (!) Of the text.

How to Improve the Terminal in macOS?

Yes there – you can even change the cursor! Available options are block, underline, or vertical bar. It is also in your power to decide whether the cursor should blink, and what color it should be.

Finally, if desired, the transparency of the Terminal window also changes. As a result, it is very easy to “hang up” a transparent window right above the web page and enter commands as you read some instructions.

Default Shell Setup

Initially, bash is running on macOS. But there are others – /bin/bash, /bin/csh, /bin/zsh, /bin/ksh, etc. Unix enthusiasts love working with zsh (or Z), because it has many features and support for dozens of different plugins. If you are a newbie, the default bash shell will be more than enough.


Terminal is a system command-line application for many decades. Today Apple development is trying to maintain a balance between accessibility for new users and maximum opportunities for professionals. If you need something more, or just want something else already, try various alternatives such as HyperTerm, iTerm or Cathode.

How to Improve the Terminal in macOS?

It’s the best time to ask questions and give us your feedback in comments.


Hi there! My Name is Vincent Lago! My goal is to share insightful reviews, guides, and manuals for people looking to know more about current solutions for Apple hardware and OS. I have years of technological background knowledge including owning a custom iMacs & PCs which was using for different types of business. And now, I want to share my experience with you.

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