Terminal Makeover with Oh-my-zsh and iTerm.

A visual step-by-step guide to replacing the default terminal application with iTerm2.

Over the weekend, I’ve decided to restore my Macbook Pro to factory settings so I can have a clean start at setting up a programming environment.

In this post, we’ll work through setting up oh-my-zsh and iTerm2 on the Mac.

This is what the end-result will look like:

The end-result.

Let’s begin!

Press CMD + SPACE to call the spotlight service.

Start typing in “terminal” and you should see something similar below.

Hit the enter key (gently, of course) to open the terminal application.

If you see something that says “The default interactive shell is now zsh…” it means you’re still using bash as your shell.

Let’s switch to zsh.

Click on “Terminal” and select “Preferences…” as shown below.

This will open up the terminal settings window.

In the “Shells open with” section, click on “Default login shell” as shown below.

Close the window by click on the “X” t the top left-hand corner and then restart the terminal. You should now see the terminal using the zsh like the one below.

Installing Powerline Fonts

The theme “agnoster” will require some special fonts to be render properly. Let’s install them now.

Type the following command into the terminal:

git clone https://github.com/powerline/fonts.git --depth=1

And then the following to change directory:

cd fonts

The directory will change ~/fonts as shown below.

Type the following command to install the fonts into your system.


The output should be something like one below.

Let’s back up to the parent directory so we could do some cleaning up:

cd ..

You should the following output below indicating the home directory.

Let’s delete the installation folder with the following command:

rm -rf fonts

The fonts folder should be deleted now. Let’s clear our console output.


You should see a clear window now on the console like the one below.

Installing Oh-My-ZSH

Oh-My-ZSH takes care of the configuration for our zsh shell. Let’s install it now.

Type the following into the terminal (do not use any line breaks, this should be only one line):

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

You should now see oh-my-zsh installed on your computer.

If you see a message that says “Insecure completion-dependent directories detected,” we need to set the ZSH_DISABLE_COMPFIX to true in the .zshrc file on the home directory.

To do this, open up a Finder window and navigate to home directory.

Press SHIFT + CMD + . to reveal hidden files. You should now see something similar below.

Open the .zshrc file using a text editor like Sublime.

This is what the inside of the .zshrc file looks like:

Scroll down around line #73.

Insert the following line right before source $ZSH/oh-my-zsh.sh:


Save and close the .zshrc file, and open a new terminal window. You should something similar like the one below.

Replacing the Default Terminal

Go to https://www.iterm2.com/version3.html and download the latest version.

Save the installer on your “Downloads” folder like so:

Open a new Finder window and navigate to “Downloads.” You should see something similar below. Double click on the zip file and it should extract an instance of the iTerm app.

Double-click on “iTerm.app”

If prompted regarding the app being download from the Intermet, , click “Open.”

If prompted to move the app into the application folder, please click on “Move to Allocations Folder.”

Close all windows and press CMD + SPACE to pull up thre spotlight search service and type in “iterm.” Hit ENTER and you should now see the iTerm App.

Open a Finder window, navigate to the home directory, and find the .zshrc file.

Open the .zshrc file using a text editor.

Find ZSH_THEME=”robbyrussell” and replace “robbyrussell” with “agnoster” as shown below.

Save and close the file. Close any remaining open iTerm window by pressing CTRL + Q.

Restart iTerm by pressing CMD + SPACE and typing in “iterm” as shown in the images below.

Hit the ENTER key and a new iTerm window should open like the one below.

The prompt looks a little weird. Let’s fix it!

Go to iTerm2 and select Preferences… as shown below.

You’ll see something like the image below.

Click on “Profiles.”

Find the “+” on the lower left corner of the window below the Profile Name area besides “Tags >”

Click on the “+” sign.

On the General tab, under the Basics area, replace the default “New Profile” name with your preferred profile name. Below, I had typed in “Gunmetal Blue.”

In Title, click on the drop down and check or uncheck your preferences for the window title appearances.

Navigate to the Colors tab and click on the “Color Presets…” dropdown in the lower right hand corner of the window and selet “Smooooooth.”

Find “Background” in the Basic Colors section and set the color to R:0 G:50 B:150 as shown below.

Navigate to the “Text” tab and find the “Font” section. Select any of the Powerline fonts. Below, I selected Roboto Mono Medium for Powerline” and increase the font size to 13.

Under the same “Font” section, check “Use a different font for non-ASCII text” and select the same font as before. Refer to the image below.

Next, navigate to the “Window” tab and set the Transparency and Blur as show below.

Then, navigate to the “Terminal” tab and check “Unlimited scrollback.”

Finally, let’s set this newly created profile by as the default by clicking on “Other Actions…” dropdown and selecting “Set as Default” as shown below.

You should now see a star next to the newly created profile indicating that its status as the default profile for new windows.

Restart iTerm and you should something similar like the one below.

Notice that we can barely see the directory indicator on the prompt. Also, the username@hostname is a little long for liking. Let’s fix those.

Go to the iTerm preferences again and navigate to “Profiles” tab. Find “Blue” on the ANSI Colors under the “Normal” column and click on the colored box.

Set the RGB values as R:0 G:200 B:250 as shown below.

Quit iTerm by pressing CMD + Q and open a Finder window. Navigate to the home directory, reveal the hidden files with SHIFT + CMD + . and double click on the “.oh-my-zsh” folder.

Navigate to and click on the “themes” folder.

Look for the “agnoster.zsh-theme” file and open it using a text editor.

This is what the inside of the theme looks like:

Around line #92, look for the “%n@%m” character string.

Select “%n@%m” and replace it with whatver you’d like to display on the prompt.

Below, I simply replaced “%n@%m” with “Dd” for brevity.

Restart iTerm and you should get something similar like the image below.

If you navigate to a git repository, you’ll see something similar below:

And that’s it!

Happy coding!

Published by

Ednalyn C. De Dios

I’ve always been enamored with code and I love data science because of its inherent power to solve real problems. Having grown up in the Philippines, served in the United States Navy, and worked in the nonprofit sector, I am driven to make the world a better place. I have started and participated in numerous campaigns that aim to reduce domestic violence and child abuse in the community.

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