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Archived - Mac OS X: How to change the Terminal shell

This advanced document explains how to change the shell used in the Terminal application.
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.
Important: This is an advanced topic. You should use this information only if you are comfortable using Terminal and understand the concept of shells.

The default shell (or command-line interface) used in Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.2.8 is tcsh (with 10.3 and 10.4 it's bash). With Mac OS X 10.2 or later, other interactive shells are included, such as bash and zsh.

To temporarily change your shell, type the name of the shell, such as: bash

To revert to the tcsh shell, close the Terminal window and open a new one.

To permanently change your default Terminal shell:

  1. Choose Preferences from the Terminal menu.

  2. Select the option "Execute this command (specify complete path):"

  3. Change the selected text entry from /bin/tcsh to reflect a different Terminal shell, such as:

    /bin/bash
    /bin/csh
    /bin/zsh
    /bin/zsh-4.0.4 (Mac OS X 10.2.8 or earlier)
    /bin/zsh-4.1.1 (Mac OS X 10.3 or later)
    /bin/ksh (Mac OS X 10.4 or later)

  4. Close the Terminal Preferences window.

  5. Quit and open Terminal again. The first and subsequent new Terminal windows open with the shell that you designated in Preferences.

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Last Modified: Feb 19, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 19, 2012
  • Article: TA27005
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