How to Christmassify your terminal and shell

How to add emojis, color, and font styles to your Bash prompt

This tutorial will show you how to customise your shell prompt using Bash variables and escaped characters. You will learn how to add emojis, colors, font styles, as well as run commands that execute every time the prompt is drawn, such as to display your git branch.

While this tutorial has a seasonal theme, it can serve as a basis for adding ANY types of emojis, color schemes, and functions you like to your shell.

PS1 and backslash-escaped special characters

To change the prompt, I will show you how to set the PS1 environment variable, which is usually set in your ~/.bashrc.

PS1 means prompt string 1. There are four in total — see the Bash main page for more explanation.

Bash has various backslash-escaped special characters that you can use to build in the information and style you want. For example, to display the shell name (\s), your current directory (\W), and a prompt character (\$) you would set the following:

PS1="\s \W \$ "

The following shows all the options as listed in the Bash manual reference:

When executing interactively, bash displays the primary prompt PS1 when it is ready to read a command, and the secondary  prompt  PS2  when  it needs  more  input  to  complete  a  command.  Bash allows these prompt strings to be customized by inserting  a  number  of  backslash-escaped special characters that are decoded as follows:
              \a     an ASCII bell character (07)
\d the date in "Weekday Month Date" format (e.g., "Tue May 26")
the format is passed to strftime(3) and the result is inserted into the prompt string; an empty format results in a locale-specific time representation. The braces are required
\e an ASCII escape character (033)
\h the hostname up to the first `.'
\H the hostname
\j the number of jobs currently managed by the shell
\l the basename of the shell's terminal device name
\n newline
\r carriage return
\s the name of the shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following the final slash)
\t the current time in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format
\T the current time in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format
\@ the current time in 12-hour am/pm format
\A the current time in 24-hour HH:MM format
\u the username of the current user
\v the version of bash (e.g., 2.00)
\V the release of bash, version + patch level (e.g., 2.00.0)
\w the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde (uses the value of the PROMPT_DIRTRIM variable)
\W the basename of the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde
\! the history number of this command
\# the command number of this command
\$ if the effective UID is 0, a #, otherwise a $
\nnn the character corresponding to the octal number nnn
\\ a backslash
\[ begin a sequence of non-printing characters, which could be used to embed a terminal control sequence into the prompt
\] end a sequence of non-printing characters


You can use emojis in your prompt by copying and pasting them into where you set your PS1 variable. There are many places you can find lists of emojis, such as

PS1="🎄\s \W \$ "