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fish - the friendly interactive shell Build Status

fish is a smart and user-friendly command line shell for macOS, Linux, and the rest of the family. fish includes features like syntax highlighting, autosuggest-as-you-type, and fancy tab completions that just work, with no configuration required.

For more on fish's design philosophy, see the design document.

Quick Start

fish generally works like other shells, like bash or zsh. A few important differences can be found at by searching for the magic phrase "unlike other shells".

Detailed user documentation is available by running help within fish, and also at

Getting fish


fish can be installed:

Packages for Linux

Packages for Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux/CentOS are available from the openSUSE Build Service.

Packages for Ubuntu are available from the fish PPA, and can be installed using the following commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:fish-shell/release-2
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fish

Instructions for other distributions may be found at


fish can be installed using Cygwin Setup (under the Shells category).

fish can be installed into Windows Subsystem for Linux using the instructions under Packages for Linux for the appropriate image (eg Ubuntu).

Building from source

If packages are not available for your platform, GPG-signed tarballs are available from and fish-shell on GitHub.

See the Building section for instructions.

Running fish

Once installed, run fish from your current shell to try fish out!


Running fish requires:

  • a curses implementation such as ncurses (libraries and the tput command)
  • PCRE2 library - a copy is included with fish
  • MuParser library - a copy is included with fish
  • gettext (library and gettext command), if compiled with translation support
  • basic system utilities including basename, cat, cut, date, dircolors, dirname, ls, mkdir, mkfifo, mktemp, rm, seq, sort, stat, stty, tail, tr, tty, uname, uniq, wc, and whoami
  • a number of common UNIX utilities:
    • awk
    • find
    • grep
    • hostname
    • kill
    • ps
    • sed

The following optional features also have specific requirements:

  • builtin commands that have the --help option or print usage messages require nroff and ul (manual page formatters) to do so
  • completion generation from manual pages requires Python 2.7, 3.3 or greater, and possibly the backports.lzma module for Python 2.7
  • the fish_config Web configuration tool requires Python 2.7, 3.3 or greater, and a web browser
  • system clipboard integration (with the default Ctrl-V and Ctrl-X bindings) require either the xsel or pbcopy/pbpaste utilities
  • prompts which support showing VCS information (Git, Mercurial or Subversion) require these utilities

Switching to fish

If you wish to use fish as your default shell, use the following command:

chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish

chsh will prompt you for your password, and change your default shell. Substitute /usr/local/bin/fish with whatever path to fish is in your /etc/shells file.

Use the following command if you didn't already add your fish path to /etc/shells.

echo /usr/local/bin/fish | sudo tee -a /etc/shells

To switch your default shell back, you can run:

chsh -s /bin/bash

Substitute /bin/bash with /bin/tcsh or /bin/zsh as appropriate.

You may need to logout/login for the change (chsh) to take effect.



Compiling fish requires:

  • a C++11 compiler (g++ 4.8 or later, or clang 3.3 or later)
  • CMake, or GNU Make (all platforms), or Xcode (macOS only)
  • a curses implementation such as ncurses (headers and libraries)
  • PCRE2 (headers and libraries) - a copy is included with fish
  • MuParser (headers and libraries) - a copy is included with fish
  • gettext (headers and libraries) - optional, for translation support

Compiling from git (that is, not a released tarball) also requires:

  • either Xcode (macOS only) or the following Autotools utilities (all platforms):
    • autoconf 2.60 or later
    • automake 1.13 or later
  • Doxygen (1.8.7 or later) - optional, for documentation

Building from source

Using CMake

mkdir build; cd build
cmake .. #  add -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release for release build
make install

Using autotools

autoreconf --no-recursive #if building from Git
sudo make install

Xcode Development Build

  • Build the base target in Xcode
  • Run the fish executable, for example, in DerivedData/fish/Build/Products/Debug/base/bin/fish

Xcode Build and Install

xcodebuild install
sudo ditto /tmp/fish.dst /
sudo make install-doc

Help, it didn't build!

If fish reports that it could not find curses, try installing a curses development package and build again.

On Debian or Ubuntu you want:

sudo apt-get install build-essential ncurses-dev libncurses5-dev gettext autoconf

On RedHat, CentOS, or Amazon EC2:

sudo yum install ncurses-devel

Contributing Changes to the Code

See the Guide for Developers.

Contact Us

Questions, comments, rants and raves can be posted to the official fish mailing list at or join us on our channel or IRC channel #fish at Or use the fish tag on Stackoverflow for questions related to fish script and the fish tag on Superuser for all other questions (e.g., customizing colors, changing key bindings).

Found a bug? Have an awesome idea? Please open an issue on this github page.