A snippet system for zsh. Create new snippets as you go
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A snippet system for zsh. Create new snippets as you go.

Concise introductions

This gallery of features provides animated GIFs that document many features.

This 20 second animated gif gives a good summary of why you might want to use zshnip.

Youtube introduction


This is an extended version of William G Hatch's (willghatch@gmail.com) original library that was influenced by code on forums. The define-as-you-go features were added by facet@facetframer.com.

Code for rendering the presentation to MP4 is taken from asciinema2gif by tav (public domain).


Step 1: Get the code

Using zplug

    source /usr/share/zplug/init.zsh
    zplug facetframer/zshnip
    zplug install
    zplug load

Using zgen

    zgen load facetframer/zshnip
    zgen init

Raw installation

    cd ~
    git clone https://github.com/facetframer/zshnip.git
    echo "source zshnip/zshnip.zsh" >> ~/.zshrc

Step 2: Create some key-bindings

Manually create key-bindings for defining snippets. (you can use different bindings if desired)

bindkey '\ej' zshnip-expand-or-edit # Alt-J
bindkey '\ee' zshnip-edit-and-expand # Alt-E


There is a concise walk-through of using zshnip in this section of the presentation.

After having installed zshnip and defined key-bindings (see the section above):

  • Type your snippet alias (e.g. gs)
  • Run zshnip-expand-or-edit with Alt-J (or your own key-binding)
  • A prompt will appear within your shell to define your snippet
  • Type your snippet (e.g. git status) and press ENTER.
  • Your snippet will have expanded.
  • After this, when you press Alt-J after your snippet alias (e.g. gs) this expansion will be used.


Defining snippets can be problematic:

  1. Learning other people's snippets is boring
  2. One only knows what snippets you want while you are carrying out a task, not later.
  3. Going to an editor to define a snippet can hijack another task.

Can't you just use aliases?

Certainly, you can even supports pipes etc in your aliases using global aliases (alias -g g='| grep '). You could also write a wrapper about alias to persist aliases and use something like https://github.com/jarmo/expand-aliases-oh-my-zsh to expand them.

Using snippets have some benefits

  • You can verify that snippets expand to what you want before running them (useful if you have a lot of snippets)
  • The define-as-you-go features have various benefits.

Some compelling use cases

Here is a list of the snippets the maintainer uses on a regular basis. These are not built-in, and you might want to phrase them differently, but they could act as inspiration.

gs -> git status
mh -> --help
mf -> --force
g -> | grep -i
gv -> | grep -v
sda -> sed -n '//,$ p'
gap -> git add -p
o -> $(!!)
lm1 -> | tail -n 1
xarm -> xargs -n 1 kill
xarmp -> xargs -p -n 1 kill
sso -> | grep -o ''
sss -> | grep -P '^'
w1 -> | awk '{ print $1 }'
wm1 -> | rev | awk ' { print $1 }'
si -> sudo apt-get install
sa -> sudo !!
ag -> !! | grep


The code for generating the feature gallery also performs consistency testing. Combining testing and generation of documentation like this has various benefits (see doctest). To run these tests run animation/record-gallery.sh

Similar projects


LGPLv3 (see LICENSE for details.)

Copyleft licenses can be controversial. This project feels like more of application than a library so a copyleft license seems like a good choice. If there is a compelling reasons to place this under a more permissive license this would not be difficult.