The Top 3 Apple Terminal Mods


OK Folks, for all of you who are using a Mac and starting to explore the use of Terminal, I thought I’d start us off by listing the top 3 mods you can do for your terminal, to spice it up a little. In the next article I will get into the more technical aspects of how to use Terminal, with basic commands and so forth. But for now, let’s do the makeup (lipstick and all). If you can think of any more, just comment 🙂

1. Visor

This is a free nify little app, with a retro Quake feel to it. Basically it sits on your status bar, and with a short-cut command, drops down to half the screen, for you to type in commands. Makes it more convenient I guess. Check it out


2. Terminal Bash File and Folder colouring

To compete with our Ubuntu cousins, in terminal, if you edit or create a .profile file in your home directory and add:

alias ls=’/bin/ls -G’
export LSCOLORS=dxgxcxdxDxegedabagacad

You can get cool colours for your files and folders, to be able to chroma-distinguish between each of the types. As you can see, the LSCOLORS line actually tells the bash what each type’s colour should be. The follow excerpt from gives you a quick reference on how to  tweak this line:

The colors can be set with the LSCOLORS variable. The color designators are as follows:

a     black
b     red
c     green
d     brown
e     blue
f     magenta
g     cyan
h     light grey
A     bold black, usually shows up as dark grey
B     bold red
C     bold green
D     bold brown, usually shows up as yellow
E     bold blue
F     bold magenta
G     bold cyan
H     bold light grey; looks like bright white
x     default foreground or background

Note that the above are standard ANSI colors. The actual display may differ depending on the color capabilities of the terminal in use. The order of the attributes in the LSCOLORS variable is as follows:

  1. directory
  2. symbolic link
  3. socket
  4. pipe
  5. executable
  6. block special
  7. character special
  8. executable with setuid bit set
  9. executable with setgid bit set
  10. directory writable to others, with sticky bit
  11. directory writable to others, without sticky bit

They are set in pairs, foreground (f) then background (b), i.e. fbfbfbfbfbfbfbfbfbfbfb for all 11 settings. The default is exfxcxdxbxegedabagacad, i.e. blue foreground and default background for regular directories, black foreground and red background for setuid executables, etc.

3. PathFinder Terminal

For all of you who haven’t heard of Path Finder by Cocoa Tech, stop everything and go get it. It’s amazing Finder-alternative, which is more elegant, with more powerful ways of doing things.


I’ll dedicate an article to this in the future, but for now, just google to find out more about it. Anyway, to cut to the cheese, There is a terminal feature embedded in this app, which is really cool, so this could provide a different way for you to navigate your mac through the ‘dark side’. As you can see in this illustration, the terminal is embedded below, which works in tend um with the rest of your finder-like User Interface.

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