iTerm + zsh + tmux for your MacOS

Being a linux user for most part of my developer life, the most important thing of my life is the terminal (or shell or command line or console or whatever you want to call it) followed by text editor. Here I am going to talk mainly about the terminal (yes, I am just gonna call that throughout). So, when I started using a Macbook, the first question (apart from when to use CMD and CTRL) was which terminal and how to set it up with zsh and tmux. So I am gonna talk a little about that.

iTerm 2 for the win

The very first question was "Is the default terminal of Mac good?" Well, it's good enough, but most of the digging into led me to the same answer - Use iTerm2. So the very first step is to forget using the default terminal, and use iTerm2. The main reason is it comes with more customising options and better color support more than anything else.

You can download and unzip iTerm2 from here. All you need to do is unzip and put it into Applications folder and you are ready to use it.

ZSH

I have been using Z Shell for quite some time and have been used to the commands and ways so much, it is a little difficult to use bash. I feel Z shell increases productivity a lot, but personal opinion. So, to install ZSH in your Mac, all you do is:


brew install zsh

Once you have it installed, you can run the command `zsh` to start the Z Shell.

Oh My Zsh

A big shoutout to Robby Russell for creating this gem. If you felt Zsh increases your productivity and takes your command line experience to  a whole new level, wait till you have used Oh My Zsh. It makes your life much more easier by showing a lot more information in your shell especially when you are using git. It can be used to customize and show a lot of information according to your will. The amount of already present templates is just huge.

Execute this in your terminal to get Oh-my-zsh:


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

Once you have installed, you can open the `~/.zshrc` file to add plugins like git, change themes and modify stuff. Here is a complete documentation and available template links.

Tmux

Tmux is basically a terminal multiplexer allowing you to create and access different terminal sessions within a single window. It also allows you to split your window into different panes, hence allowing you to do a lot more in a single window. Just like zsh, tmux is also something I have been using for some time and helps me maximise my productivity. 

You can install tmux, just by doing:


brew install tmux

After that, you need to configure your tmux to make it comfortable for your key bindings. One good link to get started I guess is this.

Integrate ZSH and Tmux

Now, after all configuration, the biggest pain is you have to open the terminal, change to tmux and then start zsh and then do work. But what we want is iTerm default opens in Zsh. Now, I prefer that it doesn't open with tmux by default, because there are scenarios where I want to work outside of tmux sessions, so I leave tmux to be started by me. But then make tmux start with Zsh instead of bash.

So here is what you do.

1. Make zsh your default shell.
chsh -s `which zsh`

2. Make tmux open with zsh. To do this, put the below line in ~/.tmux.conf:
# set shell
set -g default-shell /bin/zsh

3. Kill all previously running tmux instances. 
killall tmux

4. Close iTerm2 and restart it.

Now, your terminal should start with zsh. When you enter into tmux, it should go into tmux session along with zsh instead of bash.

And Voila! There you have a nice productive terminal. Or so I feel. 

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