Power up your Terminal

Having recently migrated from a PC to a Mac, I've been missing some home comforts from Powershell. One of my favourite things was PostGit, which provides in-line Git information relating to your current folder.

Since moving to Terminal on the Mac, I found my productivity had dropped significantly as little issues got in my way.

Here are a few code snippets I've found which help improve Terminal's usability.

Set Auto-complete to be case insensitive

echo "set completion-ignore-case On" >> ~/.inputrc

By default, tab completion is case-sensitive, so this snippet adds a property to the .inputrc file (and creates the file too) to ignore case. To revert. just modify the file in your favourite code editor and remove the line.

Install Homebrew

Akin to Chocolatey in Windows, Homebrew is a command-line utility that allows you to install additional tools and packages from a remote repository.

To install, paste the following code into terminal and hit enter:

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

Install git-completion

As the heading suggests, this package provides auto-completion for Git commands, and just makes writing commands that bit quicker


Install posh-git-bash

Posh-Git for bash is core to my Terminal experience. I'm not a massive fan of UI based clients such as SourceTree or GitKraken.

What this provides is a colour-coded in-line summary of the git status of the current directory, including which branch is checked out and whether you're up-to-date with your remote.

Follow the readme and install

Once you've installed these things, your .bash_profile & .bashrc files should look similar to the samples below. You may not be able to be able to see the files in Finder, so use the code command in Terminal to open them in VS Code, or turn on ShowAllFiles and double-click them once they appear in finder (See below on how to launch VS Code and show hidden files).


Your .bash_profile file should include sections for bash completion and referencing the .bashrc:

if [ -f $(brew --prefix)/etc/bash_completion ]; then
  . $(brew --prefix)/etc/bash_completion

source ~/.bashrc  


Your .bashrc file should include these lines:

source ~/git-prompt.sh

PROMPT_COMMAND='__posh_git_ps1 "\u@\h:\w " "\\\$ ";'$PROMPT_COMMAND

Turn on 'code' command to launch VS Code

In VS Code hit: CMD + SHFT + P then type the following (auto-complete should help):

Shell Command: Install 'code' command in PATH

Once enabled, you can open a file by typing:

code ~/.bashrc

or if you want to open the folder at your current location you can use:

code .

Show hidden files

Something that's related more to Finder than Terminal, but is a bit obscure to find is how to show hidden files.

This can be toggled on or off in the finder using Shift+Cmd+.

Or for something a bit more permanent here's the command to turn them on:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

Make 'tab' cycle through options

When pressing tab, the default behaviour is to auto-complete if the terminal can only find one option that matches the current input, or display all options if more than one match is found. However, in Powershell, you can cycle through the various options until you find the one you want. To achieve this in Terminal open your ~/.bashrc file in VS Code and enter the following:

bind '"\t":menu-complete'

Hit save and reload your terminal. You should now be able to cycle through items using tab.

Update (25/07/2018)

After seeing this post, an old colleague of mine pointed me in the direction of iTerm2 and Oh-My-Zsh, and after using it for a while I must admit that I'm a convert.

Using this gist I was able to setup the terminal and VSCode & have been using the combo ever since.

Many thanks to @AtkinChris for pointing me in the right direction