Blog Image for Create the right environment to be a CLI poweruser.

MacOS: Setup for a minimalistic CLI

Create the right environment to be a CLI poweruser.

For macOS users, creating a minimalistic yet powerful CLI environment is easier than you might think. Let’s dive into how you can set up your macOS to become a CLI poweruser.

Why Go Minimalistic?

A minimalistic CLI setup focuses on simplicity, efficiency, and performance. By stripping away unnecessary bloat and optimizing your tools, you can achieve a cleaner, faster, and more intuitive command-line experience. This approach not only enhances productivity but also reduces distractions, allowing you to focus on what’s important.

Key Tools for a Minimalistic CLI Setup

  1. Homebrew Homebrew is a must-have for macOS users. It’s a package manager that simplifies the installation of software and tools.
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"

With Homebrew installed, you can easily manage and install other CLI tools.

  1. iTerm2 iTerm2 is a powerful replacement for the default Terminal app, offering a wealth of features and customization options.

Download and install iTerm2 from

  1. Zsh and Oh My Zsh Zsh is a powerful shell that offers more features and flexibility than the default bash shell. Oh My Zsh is a framework for managing your Zsh configuration.
brew install zsh
sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"
  1. fzf fzf is a command-line fuzzy finder that enhances the way you search and navigate through files.
brew install fzf
$(brew --prefix)/opt/fzf/install
  1. tmux tmux is a terminal multiplexer that allows you to manage multiple terminal sessions within a single window.
brew install tmux

Essential Configurations

Customize iTerm2

  • Profiles: Create custom profiles for different tasks.
  • Colors and Fonts: Adjust the color scheme and fonts to your liking.
  • Hotkeys: Set up hotkeys for quick access to your profiles and commands.

Configure Zsh and Oh My Zsh

Themes: Choose a minimalistic theme like robbyrussell or agnoster. Plugins: Enable plugins that enhance productivity, such as git, z, and autojump. Edit your ~/.zshrc file to apply changes:

nano ~/.zshrc

Add or adjust the following lines:

plugins=(git z autojump)
source $ZSH/

Set Up tmux

Create a .tmux.conf file in your home directory to customize tmux:

nano ~/.tmux.conf

Add these basic configurations to get started:

# Enable mouse mode
set -g mouse on

# Set prefix key to Ctrl-a
unbind C-b
set -g prefix C-a
bind C-a send-prefix

# Split panes using | and -
bind | split-window -h
bind - split-window -v

# Reload tmux configuration
bind r source-file ~/.tmux.conf \; display "Reloaded!"

Useful CLI Tools

  1. bat bat is a cat clone with syntax highlighting and Git integration.
brew install bat
  1. exa exa is a modern replacement for ls, with more features and better defaults.
brew install exa
  1. ripgrep ripgrep is a line-oriented search tool that recursively searches your current directory for a regex pattern.
brew install ripgrep

Tips for CLI Productivity

  1. Keyboard Shortcuts Learn and use keyboard shortcuts to navigate and manage your CLI environment more efficiently. For instance, in tmux, you can switch between panes and windows quickly with key bindings.

  2. Aliases and Functions Define aliases and functions in your ~/.zshrc to speed up repetitive tasks. For example:

alias ll='ls -lah'
  1. Automation Scripts Write and use scripts to automate common tasks, such as setting up your development environment or deploying applications.

Final Thoughts

Setting up a minimalistic CLI environment on macOS can greatly enhance your productivity and streamline your workflow. By leveraging powerful tools like Homebrew, iTerm2, Zsh, and tmux, you can create a clean, efficient, and highly customizable command-line interface.

With the right configurations and a focus on simplicity, you can become a CLI poweruser, handling tasks more efficiently and effectively. So, take the plunge and optimize your macOS CLI setup today!