Customizing Your Prezto Prompt

One of the most critical parts of having a streamlined command line experience is your prompt. Throughout a normal day, you’ll see your prompt thousands of times. Customizing it with relevant information can drastically improve your workflow.

Here’s a screenshot of the default Mac OS X bash prompt:

Boring Prompt

Here’s an example of a customized prompt:

Better Prompt

For the purpose of this post I’ll be focusing on the configuration framework I use: Prezto1. It’s easy to install using the instructions on the official repo.


Included Themes

Just by installing Prezto you’ll have 21 great themes. To give one of these themes a try, you can type:

prompt THEME_NAME

This will load the theme into your current session. If you’d like to load the theme for all future sessions, modify this line in your ~/.zpreztorc file:

zstyle ':prezto:module:prompt' theme 'THEME_NAME'

The Prezto repo doesn’t have a great showcase of their themes like the oh-my-zsh theme wiki, so here’s a rundown of all 21 Prezto themes:

  • minimal minimal theme

  • nicoulaj nicoulaj theme

  • peepcode peepcode theme

  • sorin sorin theme

  • steeef steeef theme

  • adam1 adam1 theme

  • adam2 adam2 theme

  • bart bart theme

  • bigfade bigfade theme

  • clint clint theme

  • elite elite theme

  • elite2 elite2 theme

  • fade fade theme

  • fire fire theme

  • off off theme

  • oliver oliver theme

  • pws pws theme

  • redhat redhat theme

  • suse suse theme

  • walters walters theme

  • zefram zefram theme


User Themes

I’ve found a few high quality themes that haven’t made it to the official Prezto repo yet. Check them out below.

To install these themes, copy the prompt_THEME_setup file into your ~/.zprezto/modules/prompt/functions folder.

Note: For the powerline and paradox themes, you’ll need a Powerline-patched font.


Custom Themes

I’ve been toying with creating my own custom Prezto theme lately, but haven’t finished anything substantial. When I create something worth sharing, I’ll make another post.

If you’re thinking of creating your own theme, I would recommend checking out the source for the current themes in ~/.zprezto/modules/prompts.

Happy theming!


1. I talk more about choosing between the two most popular configuration frameworks, oh-my-zsh and Prezto, in my post A Beautifully Productive Terminal Experience.