Configuring and Using Aliases in Zsh on MacOS

November 26, 2023 • Category - MacOS • 995 views
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One powerful feature that can aid in the efficient and effective use of the command-line is the use of aliases. Here we'll explore how to configure and leverage aliases in the Zsh shell on MacOS to make your command-line experience smoother and more efficient.

What are Aliases?

Aliases in a shell are user-defined shortcuts or abbreviations for longer commands. They allow you to create custom commands that are easier to remember and type. In Zsh, one of the popular shells used on MacOS, configuring aliases is a straightforward process.

Configuring Aliases in Zsh:

  • Open your Zsh Configuration file:
    • You will first need to show hidden files within Finder which can be done with the shortcut combination of 'Cmd + Shift + .'
    • The Zsh configuration file is usually located at ~/.zshrc (which is basically a shortcut to /Users/your_user_name).
    • Alternatively, within MacOS Finder, from the menu, select Go -> Go to folder and enter the location above.
    • You can then open the configuration file with your preferred text editor.
  • Define your aliases:
    • To create an alias, use the alias command followed by the alias name, an equal sign, and the command or series of commands you want to alias. For example:
      alias ll='ls -lG'
      alias gs='git status'
  • Reload Zsh Configuration:
    • To apply the changes, you need to reload your Zsh configuration. You can do this by running the following, or alternatively, close your terminal and re-open it:
      source ~/.zshrc

Using Aliases Effectively

  • Custom Commands - Create aliases for commands you frequently use. For instance:
    alias dc='docker-compose'
    alias k='kubectl'
    alias ar='php artisan'
  • Command Options - Simplify command options by creating aliases. For example:
    alias grep='grep --color=auto'
  • Combining Commands - You can chain multiple commands into one alias:
    alias update='sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade'
  • Interactive Mode - Create aliases for interactive commands:
    alias c='clear'
    alias e='exit'
  • Hard to remember commands - Create aliases for lengthy and difficult to remember commands, such as:
    alias myserver='ssh [email protected]'


Configuring aliases in Zsh on MacOS is a simple yet powerful way to enhance your command-line experience. By customising commands to match your workflow, you can save time and reduce the cognitive load associated with remembering complex commands. Take advantage of aliases to make your interaction with the terminal more efficient and enjoyable. Experiment with different aliases and tailor them to your needs.


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