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mattbrictson’s dotfiles

This project contains the dotfiles and custom shell scripts that I use on my Mac.

Why keep them at GitHub? It’s a way to share advanced shell tips with other developers, and more practically, a way to back up my configuration. When I get a new Mac or (knock on wood) need to recover from lost data or a corrupt OS, I can simply clone this repository and immediately be back in business.

Thank you Ryan Bates, thoughtbot and Tom Ryder for the inspiration.


Before using these dotfiles there are a few things you'll need to install manually:

  1. Your Mac needs git and Apple’s command-line developer tools.
  2. Homebrew.

My blog post here has a walkthrough:


Choose a place to store the dotfiles, like ~/Code/dotfiles.

git clone git:// ~/Code/dotfiles
cd ~/Code/dotfiles

Run one of the three installation options:

rake install:dotfiles # Install the dotfiles and scripts
rake install:packages # Install homebrew packages and Mac defaults
rake install          # Install all of the above (recommended)

Changing your bash version

Some features of the dotfiles only work with bash version 4.2. After installing bash via homebrew (which rake install:packages does for you), enable it as your shell as follows:

  1. Add /usr/local/bin/bash to /etc/shells
  2. Change your shell to /usr/local/bin/bash by running chsh

Package Control

The Sublime Text packages included in these dotfiles will automatically install themselves the next time you launch Sublime Text, but you need to manually install Package Control first:

  1. Press SHIFT CMD P to bring up the command palette
  2. Type install
  3. Select the option to install Package Control

What’s included?

Sublime Text 3 settings and packages

For consistency with dotfiles for other apps, I put my Sublime Text 3 configuration in ~/.sublime. To ensure that Sublime Text can find this directory, I symlink ~/Library/Application Support/Sublime Text 3/Packages/User to it. The installation rake task (see below) takes care of setting this up for you. Here's what my dotfiles specify for Sublime:

  • Settings optimized for Rails development
  • Better auto-complete behavior
  • Custom key bindings

Color scheme

  • ayu (dark, customized)


  • A File Icon
  • AdvancedNewFile
  • All Autocomplete
  • ApplySyntax
  • AutoFileName
  • Case Conversion
  • CloseOtherWindows
  • Color Highlighter
  • DashDoc
  • DocBlockr
  • EditorConfig
  • Emmet
  • Gem Browser
  • GitGutter
  • Hasher
  • Indent XML
  • JSPrettier
  • Markdown Preview
  • Marked App Menu
  • PackageResourceViewer
  • Pretty JSON
  • ScopeAlways
  • SublimeLinter
  • SublimeLinter-annotations
  • SublimeLinter-eslint
  • SublimeLinter-json
  • SublimeLinter-rubocop
  • SublimeLinter-ruby
  • SublimeLinter-stylelint
  • Terminal

Syntax highlighting

  • Babel
  • Better CoffeeScript
  • Cucumber
  • Dockerfile Syntax Highlighting
  • eco (Embedded CoffeeScript)
  • Git
  • Gradle_Language
  • Handlebars
  • Kotlin
  • nginx
  • Protobuf Syntax Hightlighting
  • Ruby Slim
  • Sass
  • SSH Config
  • Swift

Handy scripts

These scripts will be installed to ~/.bin and added to your $PATH:

  • brew-install installs and updates my standard suite of homebrew recipes. Run it on a new machine after installing homebrew to get all the recipes needed for Rails development, node, PostgreSQL, etc.
  • bucket is a simple command-line interface for Bitbucket, most notably providing a way to create pull requests. Run bucket --help for details.
  • defaults-install uses defaults write on OS X to change system default behavior to my liking: e.g. don't include drop-shadows on screenshots.
  • git-pluck adds the pluck command to git, which is a trick for cherry-picking a commit from another repository into the current one: git pluck ../other-repo SHA.
  • git-reap adds the reap command to git, which deletes local and remote branches that have already been merged and thus are no longer needed.
  • node-install is a convenient wrapper around nodenv install that does some easy-to-forget housekeeping before and after installation. Usage: node-install 12.14.0.
  • ruby-install is a convenient wrapper around rbenv install that does some easy-to-forget housekeeping before and after installation. Usage: ruby-install 2.1.2.
  • sup uses SSH to update packages on one or more Ubuntu servers (assuming you have root access to them). In other words, sup SERVER1 SERVER2 will SSH as root into both servers and run the appropriate aptitude commands to safely update all packages. It will also report whether any daemons need to be restarted for the updates to take effect.

Shell enhancements (bash)

  • Customizes the shell prompt with current directory and git status: e.g. ~/Work/dotfiles (main *%)$.
  • Replaces diff with colordiff.
  • Prettifies ls output and adds l, la, and ll shortcuts.
  • Improves default top settings.
  • Allows bash command history to be navigated with up and down arrow keys.
  • Makes bash auto-completion case-insensitive.
  • Sets up necessary homebrew, rbenv, and python virtualenv shell variables.
  • Specifies less as the default pager and Sublime Text (subl) as the default editor.
  • Sets better defaults for the psql command.

Git configuration

  • Sets up a reasonable global gitignore file to ignore things like .DS_Store, Icon?, and *sublime-project.
  • Enables color output and line-ending checks.
  • Shortens common commands: di, co, ci, br, l, sw.
  • Defines somes useful aliases:
    • git hist
    • git ignored-files
    • git untracked-files
    • git unstage

In addition, during installation (see below), you will be prompted for your full name and email address, which are automatically added to the git config file.

Ruby/rails stuff

  • Adds an r command that serves as a shortcut for running bin/rake or bin/rails. It's pretty smart, so r s will expand to bin/rails server, and r db will expand to bin/rake db:console. No more mistakes of typing rails vs rake!
  • Disables gem documentation generation so that gem install runs much faster.
  • Uses my rails-template when running rails new.
  • Configures the xray gem to use Sublime Text.
  • Enables command history (use up and down arrows) in irb.
  • Defines a list of useful gems that are installed by default whenever a new version of ruby is installed via rbenv install.


bash, git, rails, Sublime Text 3, homebrew, more...