Why Z Shell Is the Best Choice for Beginners

What is Z shell? And why should you use it instead of another shell like Bash?

In almost every IT or CS position, you will have to use a shell program for controlling and running programs. There are several shells available, with Bash, Bourne shell, fish, and Z shell (Zsh) among the most commonly used today. Zsh is growing increasingly popular, and Apple has even switched its default shell program from Bash to Zsh in the new macOS Catalina, which is releasing this year.

An Entry-Level Solution

If you’re just learning to use the shell, I think Zsh is a better option than the default Bash shell that most operating systems use. Why? It offers several helpful features including built-in spelling correction, auto-completion, syntax-highlighting, loadable modules that act as plugins for your shell, global aliases, and customization options. All of these tools can help improve your productivity.

Easy Customization

The customization options are what really sets Zsh apart from the other shell programs for beginners. When you have the shell configured to your liking, it is easy to navigate. And when you set it up with helpful plugins, you can add to your productivity.

It is important to note that Zsh is compatible with Bash, and transitioning should be smooth. You can also customize Bash, but it is a different process and does not offer as much as the Zsh plugins.

Here’s a comparison of each shell:



In my experience, the most beneficial aspect of using Zsh is the Git plugin integration. It has helped me immensely, and I have found out that a large number of our developers prefer Zsh for this reason.

Here’s a look at the capabilities:

If you want to take your customization even farther, you have lots of options. Oh My Zsh is one of the major players in Zsh customization frameworks. You can also take a look at Prezto, Zim, Zplugin, Antigen, Antibody, plus many more frameworks that will help you modify Zsh to your liking.

If you’re interested in boosting your productivity, give Zsh a try, and let me know what you think.

  • P4 says:

    ZSH is a classic but I prefer Friendly Interactive SHell much more even thought it is not POSIX compliant. The feature I like the most is the commands and arguments completion that is automagically generated from the manpages. The syntax is also much nicer and more human than with other.

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