You’ll be using a terminal app throughout the setup process, as well as in class.

macOS comes with Terminal.app, which you can find at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app or by searching for Terminal in Spotlight. It will do the job just fine, but if you’re interesting in dressing it up or exploring other shells, read on.


iTerm2 is a popular alternative to Terminal.app. It’s free and includes some advanced features that the built-in Terminal lacks. Personally, I’ve been using Hyper for about a month. Hyper is written in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS and is cross-platform, which is particularly appealing for class.

Whichever you choose, you’ll use it frequently enough that I recommend keeping it in your Dock.

$ _

When you launch your terminal, it will (by default) run a UNIX shell called Bash. Bash will present a command prompt, indicated by $. We’ll generally prefix terminal commands with that symbol in our documentation. You’re not meant to type the $ character, and it won’t be included if you copy and paste the commands from this site.


I am a big fan of Zsh (“Z shell”), which is an alternative to Bash. Even better is Oh My Zsh, which is a framework for managing Zsh configuration. I love it. You’ll still use Terminal.app, iTerm2, or Hyper to launch your shell, but it will run Zsh in place of Bash.

I will be using Zsh (with Oh My Zsh) in class, but most of what we’ll do works just as well in Bash.

Command Line Power User

If you’re not very familiar with UNIX shells, or if you’d like to learn some cool tricks, including Oh My ZSH features, sign up for Wes Bos’s free Command Line Power User videos. (They’re all on YouTube, but signing up for the email makes it a little easier to find them.)