18 thoughts on “How to set my default shell on Mac?

  1. user

    the chsh program will let you change your default shell. It will want the full path to the executable, so if your shell is fish then it will want you to provide the output given when you type which fish.

    You’ll see a line starting with “Shell:“. If you’ve never edited it, it most likely says “Shell: /bin/bash“. Replace that /bin/bash path with the path to your desired shell.

  2. user
    heimdall:~ leeg$ dscl
    Entering interactive mode... (type "help" for commands)
     > cd /Local/Default/Users/
    /Local/Default/Users > read <<YOUR_USER>>
    UserShell: /bin/bash
    /Local/Default/Users >

    just change that value (with the write command in dscl).

  3. user

    You can use chsh to change a user’s shell.

    Run the following code, for instance, to change your shell to Zsh

    chsh -s /bin/zsh

    As described in the manpage, and by Lorin, if the shell is not known by the OS, you have to add it to its known list: /etc/shells.

  4. user

    When in the terminal, open the terminal preferences using Command+,.

    On the Setting Tab, select one of the themes, and choose the shell tab on the right.

    You can set the autostart command fish.

  5. user

    Here’s another way to do it:

    Assuming you installed it with MacPorts, which can be done by doing:

    sudo port install fish

    Your shell will be located in /opt/local/bin/fish.

    You need to tell OSX that this is a valid shell. To do that, add this path to the end of the /etc/shells file.

    Once you’ve done this, you can change the shell by going to System Preferences -> Accounts. Click on the Lock to allow changes. Right-click on the account, and choose “Advanced Options…”. In the “Login shell” field, add the path to fish.

  6. user

    Homebrew on M1 macs should use /opt/homebrew instead of /usr/local.

    You can check the fish location which fish. For me the fish was in /opt/homebrew/bin/fish which was the location I have added to etc/shells

  7. user

    edit .zshrc and change it to

    exec /bin/bash

    or to whatever shell you might prefer.
    Bonus: this doesn’t require root access and will work on every version of osx.

    The only problem is that it doesn’t read .bash_profile this way; it is only read if bash is run as an interactive login shell, you would have to include it from .bashrc with something like this:

    if [[ "$OSTYPE" == "darwin"* ]]; then
        #local hack on osx.
        if [[ -f $HOME/.bash_profile ]]; then
          . $HOME/.bash_profile
  8. user

    To change your default shell on mac run the following:

    chsh -s <name-of-shell>

    List of shells you can choose from are:

    1. /bin/bash
    2. /bin/csh
    3. /bin/dash
    4. /bin/ksh
    5. /bin/sh
    6. /bin/tcsh
    7. /bin/zsh

    so if you want to change from to the /bin/zsh shell, your command will look like:

    chsh -s /bin/zsh

    you can see all the available shells on your system by running:

    cat /etc/shells
  9. user

    This work for me on fresh install of mac osx (sierra):

    1. Define current user as owner of shells
    sudo chown $(whoami) /etc/shells
    1. Add Fish to /etc/shells
    sudo echo /usr/local/bin/fish >> /etc/shells
    1. Make Fish your default shell with chsh
    chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish
    1. Redefine root as owner of shells
    sudo chown root /etc/shells
  10. user

    On macOS Mojave I had to do the following (using zsh as an example):

    brew install zsh
    sudo sh -c "echo $(which zsh) >> /etc/shells"
    chsh -s $(which zsh)
  11. user

    In case you are having troubles with the other ways, worked on mac Mojave but should generally work.

    which fish

    add the output path to “System Preferences > Users & Groups > right click user, Advanced Options” Paste the result from which into “Login shell:”

  12. user

    How to get the latest version of bash on modern macOS (tested on Mojave).

    brew install bash
    which bash | sudo tee -a /etc/shells
    chsh -s $(which bash)

    Then you are ready to get vim style tab completion which is only available on bash>=4 (current version in brew is 5.0.2

    # If there are multiple matches for completion, Tab should cycle through them
    bind 'TAB':menu-complete
    # Display a list of the matching files
    bind "set show-all-if-ambiguous on"
    # Perform partial completion on the first Tab press,
    # only start cycling full results on the second Tab press
    bind "set menu-complete-display-prefix on"
  13. user

    These are applicable to MacOS Sierra 10.12.5 (16F73) and probably some other recent and upcoming versions of MacOS.

    1. chsh is not enough to change the default shell. Make sure you press Command+, while your terminal is open and change the ‘Shells open with’ option to ‘Default login shell.’

    2. In case of bash, make sure that you execute echo $BASH_VERSION to confirm you are running the intended version of bash. bash --version does not give you correct information.

  14. user

    Terminal.app > Preferences > General > Shells open with: > /bin/fish

    1. Open your terminal and press command+, (comma). This will open a preferences window.
    2. The first tab is ‘General’.
    3. Find ‘Shells open with’ setting and choose 2nd option which needs complete path to the shell.
    4. Paste the link to your fish command, which generally is /usr/local/bin/fish.

    See this screenshot where zsh is being set as default.

    screenshot of entering <code>/bin/zsh</code> in Terminal.app preferences

    I am using macOS Sierra. Also works in macOS Mojave.

  15. user

    From Terminal:

    1. Add Fish to /etc/shells, which will require an administrative password:

      sudo echo /usr/local/bin/fish >> /etc/shells
    2. Make Fish your default shell with chsh:

      chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish

    From System Preferences:

    1. User and Groups → ctrl-click on Current User → Advanced Options…

    2. Change Login shell to /usr/local/bin/fish

      login shell

    3. Press OK, log out and in again

  16. user

    The only thing that worked for me was a combination of all these methods.

    1. First I had to add fish to the /etc/shells file

    2. Then I ran chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish

    3. Finally, I typed Command+, and added /usr/local/bin/fish to the default path there

    Only after I had done all three things did fish start popping up as the default for new terminal windows.


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