Tricking Out iTerm2

The new year brought with it a new job for me as a full stack developer for Webinology,1 a small firm in Chattanooga, Tenn. I’ve always been a fan of linux, appreciate that macOS is built atop BSD, and have long been comfortable at the command line. While Apple provides, I’ve always preferred applications I can fully customize. Years ago, I found the best app for working in a shell is iTerm2.

Before my new professional role, I would only dip into iTerm2 occasionally to log into my Linode server or maintain a few apps installed with Homebrew. Now that I spend a good deal more time typing commands at a shell prompt, I decided it was time to pimp my ride.

Setting the Baseline

Apple switched the default shell from bash to zsh some time ago and that was just fine with me. As everyone should, I’ve installed oh-my-zsh (Links to site and GitHub) on top of the shell to easily enhance the environment.

Once oh-my-zsh is installed, it’s easy to enable plugins. For me, after some configuration, those include docker-compose, git, extract, zsh-autosuggestions, and zsh-syntax-highlighting. I also use the popular powerline10k theme.

iTerm Settings

There is a lot to fiddle with in iTerm’s settings window. My most important customizations are under the Profiles tab in my Default Profile. I’ve chosen the Calamity theme to set my colors and use the font MesloLGS NF to prettify the Powerline10k prompt.

Alternate Apps

I have “upgraded” a handful of command line apps to enjoy their feature enhancements for common tasks.

  • exa is a replacement for ls
  • bat is a replacement for cat


Aliases are a great way for users in any shell to save long commands to short ones that are easier to type. They also provide an easy way to replace default apps like those mentioned above. For example, instead of typing ls -laFh, I type ll. Not only is it shorter and easier to type, it actually invokes exa. All I had to do was add a line to my ~/.zshrc file.

alias ll='exa -l --icons --no-user --group-directories-first --time-style long-iso'

To include hidden .dot files, I type lll, which actually sends this.

alias lll='exa -la --icons --no-user --group-directories-first --time-style long-iso'

Another good use of aliases is to help you remember IP addresses. For instance, when I type linode, it logs into my Linode server by sending something like this:

ssh user@

  1. I speak for myself, all comments my own, blah blah blah.