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rad-shell logo

A fantastically feature rich, lightning-fast shell, using Zsh, Prezto, and Zgen.

Compatible with Oh-My-Zsh and Prezto plugins out of the box.

Update: Potentially breaking change

rad-shell does not automatically load the git-taculous theme by default anymore, allowing you to customize the theme for your own setup. After updating, the theme will no longer be loaded automatically (but will be included as one of the default plugins upon installation). To add the standard theme to your ~/.rad-plugins file, run:

echo 'brandon-fryslie/rad-plugins git-taculous-theme/git-taculous' >> ~/.rad-plugins


rad-shell was designed on MacOS, which includes all dependencies necessary to run shell. On other OSs some may need to be installed. Dependencies include:

  • zsh
  • git
  • perl (for some plugins)

If you find another dependency, please file a GitHub issue and I will add it here.


Set Zsh as your default shell, if necessary: chsh -s /bin/zsh

curl -o- | bash

This script:

  • Backs up any existing ~/.zshrc!
  • Writes a shiny new ~/.zshrc file!
  • Writes a ~/.rad-plugins file to keep track of your rad plugins!
  • Clones Zgen!
  • Clones the plugin repos and configures your new rad shell!

If you want to install rad-shell without any default plugins, use this command:

export SKIP_DEFAULT_PLUGINS=true; curl -o- | bash



default theme: git-taculous

This is the standard theme included with rad-shell. It can be disabled by removing the line brandon-fryslie/rad-plugins git-taculous-theme/git-taculous from your ~/.rad-plugins file.

You can configure the default theme with several environment variables:


  • set this to show your DOCKER_HOST in the prompt


  • show nodejs and npm versions in your prompt
  • will only show versions once NVM has been sourced
  • you must use the nvm-lazy-load plugin in this repo for this to work


  • show nodejs and npm versions in your prompt
  • this will load NVM right away, adding significant time to your shell's startup time

other themes

You can use other themes that are compatible with oh-my-zsh. Here are some:

To use one of those, add it to your ~/.rad-plugins file the same as any other plugin.

Most oh-my-zsh themes work correctly, but not all of them do for whatever reason. This is a bug (or bugs) and might get fixed some day. We most likely just need to include more libs from the oh-my-zsh repo.


You can add new plugins to the ~/.rad-plugins file. Check out my dotfiles repo for an example of how to do this:

Zgen will clone the plugin repos to a local directory. To pull upstream changes, run zgen update. Zgen will pull the latest changes in all repos and then regenerate the init file the next time a shell is opened.


zgen update - tell zgen to update all of the plugins


Important: for your meta key (alt/option) to function properly, it must be set to 'Esc+' in the iTerm settings.

You can set that by running this command with iTerm closed (use Terminal): /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c 'Set :"New Bookmarks":0:"Option Key Sends" 2' ~/Library/Preferences/com.googlecode.iterm2.plist

FilterList commands

These commands will display a filterable list that you can choose from.

When in the menu:

Press enter to execute the primary action Press meta + enter to execute the secondary action Press tab to access the list of possible actions

Ctrl+R, Ctrl+R - Search command history

Primary action: execute command

Secondary action: replace buffer with command

Meta+Shift+D - Search recent directories

Action: insert into buffer

Meta+Shift+F - Search recent files

Action: insert into buffer

Meta+Shift+B - Search git branches

Action: checkout branch

Meta+Shift+O - Search files tracked by git. Shows git status of files

Primary action: Edit file

Secondary action: Execute 'git add' on file

Meta+Shift+L - Search git log

Primary action: Insert SHA of selected commit

Secondary action: Execute 'git reset'

Meta+Shift+R - Search git reflog

Primary action: Insert SHA of selected commit

Secondary action: Execute 'git reset'

Meta+Shift+S - Show git status

Primary action: Execute 'git add' on selected file

Secondary action: Execute 'git add -p' on selected file. -p (patch) allows adding specific hunks to the commit

Meta+Shift+S - Show Zaw menu

The Zaw menu will give you access to all sources


The example .zshrc file includes several great plugins by default:

  • fasd
    • keep track of recent files / directories
    • requires install: brew install fasd
  • git-taculous theme
    • displays git, node, and docker information in your prompt
  • zaw
    • emacs-style incrementally filterable lists
  • zsh-autosuggestions
    • show autosuggestions based on command history
  • zsh-completions
    • more useful completions
  • zsh-nvm
    • automatically install NVM and switch to the correct node version
  • zsh-syntax-highlighting
    • syntax highlighting on the command line

Zaw & Fasd

Zaw provides a UI to incrementally search lists from multiple sources, similar to Helm in emacs.

Fasd keeps track of recently accessed directories and files, allowing you to access it with Zaw.

'Filter search' commands are provided by Zaw


Important: For the time being, you must use my fork of the project which has an important bugfix with regards to module loading order. You might see errors about functions not being defined if using the official Zgen repo.

There is a PR open with the fix that I hope will be merged: tarjoilija/zgen#87

DEPRECATION WARNING for pre-alpha rad-shell users

If you are a rad-shell user who recently updated and now you are missing plugins, the plugins were moved into the repo here: Please update your plugin configuration file accordingly.

~/.zgen-setup.zsh is DEPRECATED

If your rad-shell installation is using this file, please follow the instructions below

Due to a recent major refactoring, I recommend reinstalling rad-shell to get the newest version of the rad-shell source code. Simply follow the installation instructions again, then copy any customizations from your old ~/.zshrc (which will be renamed to ~/.zshrc.nn.bak where 'n' is a number) file to the new ~/.zshrc file generated during installation.

The new rad-shell will update itself automatically whenever you run zgen update, so you won't need to do this again. I apologize for the inconvenience. Thanks for being an early user of rad-shell and helping to make it better for everyone.


Ultra fast, feature filled Zsh installation






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