Cover image for iTerm2 + Oh My Zsh! + Powerlevel10K best terminal combination for Geeks!

iTerm2 + Oh My Zsh! + Powerlevel10K best terminal combination for Geeks!

equiman profile image Camilo Martinez Originally published at Medium on ・5 min read

There is a before and after listening to these letters together: ZSH. You may wonder: Why did not I hear about this before? D’oh!

Oh My Zsh - a delightful & open-source framework for Z-Shell

ZSH (Z Shell) it’s a real evolution, modernize terminal things with simple solutions. It can be used on GNU Linux and macOS, but I will teach you how to install and configure on MacOS.

So, why it’s so cool?

  • No more cd (change directory) command. Just use: .. (parent dir), ... (parent from parent dir), / (root) or ~ (home).
  • With take command create a directory and change the path to it. Instead of mkdir and cd commands.
  • Change between last and current path with - (like a TV remote control)
  • Alias commands. List all with alias or filter it with grep for example alias | grep git
  • With Z plugin change quickly to another path just naming the folder not the complete path
  • Recursive path expansion. /u/lo/b expands to /user/local/bin
  • Spelling correction and approximate completion, automatic correct when having minor mistake typing a directory name.
  • Plugin and theme support.
  • Syntax highlighting.
  • History substring search.
  • Autocomplete, jump between options with tab, and press return for selection. Works with directories, files, and commands.
  • Git integration
  • Run history command with ! followed by the number in history, like !137.
  • A lot more…

Pssttt: Powerlevel10K shows the command history number and visual Git notifications.



Brew has his own classification. Inside brew can found the CLI app and utilities. Inside cask are all the applications with Graphical Interface.

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

brew update
brew upgrade
brew cleanup

Run this command, and follow doctor recommendations:

brew doctor


Add permissions to user (or group) under this folders and enclosed items:

sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/opt
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/share

WARNING: Add the next permission just in case your machine is used by only one user.

sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local/lib

The Triplets of Belleville

WARNING: I don’t want presume, but iTerm2 + Oh My Zsh! + Powerlevel10K it’s a lethal combination. You will not want to use another terminal later.

brew cask install iterm2 

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

git clone https://github.com/romkatv/powerlevel10k.git ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/themes/powerlevel10k

git clone https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh-autosuggestions ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/zsh-autosuggestions
git clone https://github.com/nobeans/zsh-sdkman.git ${ZSH_CUSTOM:-~/.oh-my-zsh/custom}/plugins/sdkman

brew install zsh-history-substring-search
brew install zsh-syntax-highlighting
brew install z
brew install tree
chsh -s /bin/zsh

Close the default terminal and open iTerm2.


ZSH configuration file is located under ~/.zshrc. Open with your favorite editor and set:



ZSH_HIGHLIGHT_HIGHLIGHTERS=(main brackets pattern cursor root line)
ZSH_HIGHLIGHT_PATTERNS=('rm -rf *' 'fg=white,bold,bg=red')


alias x="exit"
alias sz="source ~/.zshrc"
alias hc="history -c"
alias hg="history | grep "

#Include Z
if command -v brew >/dev/null 2>&1; then
  # Load rupa's z if installed
  [ -f $(brew --prefix)/etc/profile.d/z.sh ] && source $(brew --prefix)/etc/profile.d/z.sh

Add all the plugins that you want or need inside plugins=() list, each one in a new line.

Open iTerm2 and after changing the value make sure to update your ~/.zshrc file with sz command alias or running the complete command:

source ~/.zshrc


Download and Install Meslo and Nerd Fonts

brew cask install font-meslo-lg-nerd-font
brew cask install font-hack-nerd-font

Change it on iTerm > Preferences > Profiles > Text > Change Font and select MesloLGS NF.

Visual Studio Code

If you want use ZSH as default terminal in Visual Studio Code, add this settings (⌘ + ,):

"terminal.external.osxExec": "iTerm.app",
"terminal.integrated.fontFamily": "Meslo LG M for Powerline",
"terminal.integrated.shell.osx": "zsh",


On the first run, Powerlevel10k configuration wizard will ask you a few questions and configure your prompt.

If it doesn't trigger automatically, type p10k configure.


Configuration wizard creates ~/.p10k.zsh based on your preferences. Additional prompt customization can be done by editing this file. It has plenty of comments to help you navigate through configuration options.

Terminal (Bash)

macOS default terminal comes with version 3 and not going to update it because the newer version changes his license. Apple does not supply any software under the GPLv3.

Open default terminal and run this command in order to use an updated version:

brew install bash bash-completion

Add this line to ~/.bash_profile file:

alias x="exit"
alias sb="source ~/.bash_profile"
alias hc="history -c"
alias hg="history | grep"

[ -f /usr/local/etc/bash_completion ] && . /usr/local/etc/bash_completion

Open terminal and change Terminal > Preferences > General on Shell open with: select Command (complete path) and set /bin/bash value.

With this configuration, now you can use ZSH on iTerm2 and Bash on default Terminal.

Become a ZSH Ninja!

Highly recommend taking this FREE course made by @WesBoss:

CheatSheet (Key Shortcuts)

The common MacOS modifier keys are:

Command Control Option Shift

By default, word jumps and word deletions do not work. To enable these, go to iTerm > Preferences > Profiles > Keys > Load Presets… and select Natural Text Editing.

Basic Actions

Shortcut Function
+ or + Word jumps
+ backspace Word deletion
+ d Delete current character
backspace Delete previous character
+ - Undo
+ backspace Entire line deletion
+ k Clear entire screen

Moving Faster

Function Shortcut
+ a Move to the start of line
+ e Move to the end of line
+ f Move forward a word
+ b Move backward a word

Copy and Paste

Function Shortcut
+ k Copy from cursor to the end of line
+ d Copy from cursor to the end of word
+ backspace Copy from cursor to the start of word
+ w Copy from cursor to previous whitespace
+ w Paste the last copied text
+ y Loop through and paste previously copy text
+ . Loop through and paste the last argument of previous commands

Tabs & Windows

Function Shortcut
+ Enter Fullscreen
+ Left Arrow Previous Tab
+ Right Arrow Next Tab
+ Number Go to Tab
+ + Number Go to Window
+ + Arrow Go to Split Pane by Direction
+ ] or + [ Go to Split Pane by Order of Use
+ + d Split Window Horizontally (same profile)
+ d Split Window Vertically (same profile)
+ + + h Split Window Horizontally (new profile)
+ + + v Split Window Vertically (new profile)
+ + m Set Mark
+ + j Jump to Mark

Bonus Track

Setup macOS for Development

That’s All Folks!
Happy Coding 🖖

Buy me a cofee

Posted on by:

equiman profile

Camilo Martinez


['Family Man', 'Engineer', 'Software Developer', 'Metalhead', 'English Student' ]


markdown guide

hi Camilo,

Thank you for this powerful config.

I'm getting this exact same problem as the user suggest here


I'm not getting the colors theme.

Do you know how to fix it?



Hi Gunt, I have no idea.

Can you try with powerlevel10k. See comments below.

And run p10k config command. It's like a wizard configuration.

Maybe this can help. Let us know if works.


I try with powerlevel10k, I love it already, but the theme colors are not working. I'm still trying to fix it. I will let you know.


There is powerlevel10k now. It's 10 times faster than powerlevel9k and backward-compatible with its configs. You can switch theme without changing any of your POWERLEVEL9K options to keep the same prompt you are used to while making it blazingly fast.

First, clone powerlevel10k.

git clone https://github.com/romkatv/powerlevel10k.git $ZSH_CUSTOM/themes/powerlevel10k

Then set ZSH_THEME=powerlevel10k/powerlevel10k in your ~/.zshrc and restart zsh.


Wow I watched the video and it's amazing.
Works like a charm and p10k configure command is the best.




The initial command: brew tap caskroom/cask is not working anymore.

Thanks for this step by step.


You welcome.

I'll fix that. I see on documentation that on new versions don't need to install cask anymore, you just need homebrew.



If you can update with PowerLevel10k. It's amazing.

I'll add it as a bonus.

I'm using it actually and it's really fast.


what theme are using for iterm2? what about the syntax highlighting


I'm using Powerlevel9k theme: github.com/Powerlevel9k/powerlevel9k

and Syntax Highlight installed with brew:

brew install zsh-syntax-highlighting


I’m talking about the interm2 color scheme, not the oh-my-zsh, sorry for the confusion

No problem, that's my Appearance configuration:

iTerm Preferences


Camilo, thank you so much!

I'd been using iTerm + zsh for a years, but even that I've found out something new for me from your post.


Your welcome Dmitriy, do the free course I learned a lot.


I know this is an old one now, but take a look at prezto and powerlevel10k. You might like the results!