5 steps to improve your terminal appearance on Mac OSX.

Elvio Cavalcante
5 min readJul 5, 2015

I will explain in few steps how to boost the appearance of your terminal on MacOSX.

Step 1: Download and install iTerm 2

iTerm is a terminal emulator for Mac and has lot of features comparing to the regular terminal. If you want to see the complete set o features of iTerm check this link.

Download iTerm terminal here. (I downloaded the iTerm2 2.1.1 because of my OSX version is 10.10.3)

After the download finishes, unzip the file and drag the iTerm application icon to your Applications folder.

Step 2: Download and install Homebrew

If you already have installed home brew in your computer you can skip this step. To check if it's already installed, type in yur terminal:

brew -v

If an error message appears, it's not installed yet.

Home Brew is a super useful package manager for Mac OS. If you want to know more about it check this link. To install Homebrew type in your terminal:

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

You should some something similar in your terminal:

Step 3: Download and install oh-my-zsh

Zsh is an alternative shell (and a script language too), and oh-my-zsh is a open source framework built on top of zsh for managing it's configuration. This framework will allow us to use themes, plugins, helpers, functions and many other cool things. If you want to know more about it, check this link.

Before install oh-my-zsh you will need first to install zsh using homebrew:

brew install zsh

Now let's install oh-my-zsh, to install it, open iTerm and type in your terminal the following command:

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

This will install and automatically update oh-my-zsh:

Now let's change the oh-my-zsh theme. We will have to edit .zshrc file, you can any text editor to edit this file, in this example I'm using vim. Go to the terminal and type:

vim ~/.zshrc

In line 8, change the ZSH_THEME="robbyrussell"

To enter in edit mode using vim you need to press the keyboard key: i

to ZSH_THEME="agnoster"

to exit the edit mode just press:


to save the changes in the file type:

:x and enter

Restart iTerm to apply the changes.

Step 4: Download and the install the Powerline Font

To avoid more complicated installations, I will show you the most simple and secure way to install it.

Open this link to the github repo:

Now we need to download these seven fonts marked in red. To do that, click in one of the fonts and after that you will see a button called “Raw” in the center right position of the screen . Click on this button and it will download the font:

After the download completes, you need to install the font, to do that, open the downloaded file and the following window should appear:

Now click "Install font". The font will be installed. Repeat this process for all the fonts.

Step 5: Configuring your new terminal

Now you have almost everything you need to make your terminal look great!

Click here to download the zsh's solarized dark theme. It's a useful theme and you can install the theme in the vim text editor. For now lets focus on the terminal :). If you want to know more about this theme, visit the author's site here.

Open your iTerm preferences:

Go to: Profiles > Colors > Load Presets

You will be prompted to select a file, pick the previous downloaded file: solarized-dark.itermcolors.

Now your theme file is loaded in the presets options of iTerm and should appear in the list. Go to Load Presets… button again and select the theme.

Make sure that the profile you are working on is set as default. To set a default profile, click on Other Actions…, and set as default. Don't forget to uncheck the Smart cursor color option.

We are almost done! Let's choose the Powerline font as our default font. Make sure to change both the Regular Font and Non-ASCII Font by clicking on Change Font.

After you click on the Change Font button, a dialog will appear. Select the following options: All Fonts > Source Code Pro Powerline > Regular > 14

The final touch

The last item to customize is the cursor color. Go back to: Profiles > Colors and click on the Cursor option. A new dialog will appear, go to the Color Palettes tab and select the Magenta option.

That's it! Now your terminal rocks! If you like this post or have any questions, please leave a comment below.



Elvio Cavalcante

Software Engineer, Javascript Expert, Product Developer, Startup co-founder and passionate about web technologies.