Take Your Terminal to the Next level

As programmers we spend a lot of time in the terminal, and rightfully so. File navigation, git commands, rails generators, byebugs, consoles etc are all handled in the terminal. So why not make it enjoyable to use?


The default terminal application for Mac works just fine, but adding additional functionality and improvement to user interface goes a long way for programmers and Iterm2 gives us access to some very useful tools.

Installing Iterm2

Installation of Iterm2 was very simple. Navigate to the Iterm2 homepage, here, and follow the installation process to add the software to your computer. The documentation provides a detailed description of features available ( and how to use them ) as well as news, documentation, FAQS and general info about the program. Click on the download link and add Iterm2 to your applications folder. After installing you will want to add all gems etc that you had on your original MAC terminal. ( homebrew to install zsh, set your default text editor and any others you are using regularly. ) I ran the original environment setup from Flatiron school to get all of usability I had in Mod1.

Make Iterm2 the Default Terminal Application for VSCode

To get the most of Iterm2 we want to add it to our VSCode settings to make it the default terminal opened by VScode when using the integrated terminal function of VScode. Make sure the setting below is set to iTerm.app.

VS Code Default Terminal Setting

Adding Oh My Zsh to Help Make Things Beautiful

Oh my Zsh is a management tool for our Zsh configuration. It adds functions, helpers, plugins and themes to make your Zsh terminal more fun to use. It comes bundled with 125+ themes for giving your terminal a look and UI that works best for you based on your preferences and design aesthetic. There are also additional themes available for download ( my favorite is below )

Install Oh My Zsh with the following line of code

sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh)"

Powerlevel10k: A theme that defeats all others ( imo )

Powerlevel10k is just a theme that layers on top of Oh My Zsh to give it a supreme user interface and lots of customizability. The github docs are extensive and include installation instructions, details about the configuration of the theme etc. The prompt is broken into two parts, a left and a right side with the ability to have two lines on each side. After tinkering with the Powerlevel10k zsh file you can add and remove as many of these attributes as you would like.

Here is a screen shot of my final theme. It adds github branch information, battery life and a time stamp as well as information on the current working directory. The command input is on the second line to give extra space for input commands and make readability easier. This change to the terminal has improved my workflow and given me added readability and some handy shortcuts once I took the time to explore the information in the docs and work on implementing it one piece at a time.



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Robert K.

Full- Stack Software Engineer with a former life in high-end restaurant management. Currently working in React JS and Ruby on Rails.