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Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

zshroadmap (1)


zshroadmap - informal introduction to the zsh manual The Zsh Manual, like the shell itself, is large and often complicated. This section of the manual provides some pointers to areas of the shell that are likely to be of particular interest to new users, and indicates where in the rest of the manual the documentation is to be found.


Please see following description for synopsis


ZSHROADMAP(1)               General Commands Manual              ZSHROADMAP(1)

       zshroadmap  -  informal  introduction to the zsh manual The Zsh Manual,
       like the shell itself, is large and often complicated.  This section of
       the manual provides some pointers to areas of the shell that are likely
       to be of particular interest to new users, and indicates where  in  the
       rest of the manual the documentation is to be found.

       When it starts, the shell reads commands from various files.  These can
       be  created  or  edited  to  customize  the  shell.   See  the  section
       Startup/Shutdown Files in zsh(1).

       If no personal initialization files exist for the current user, a func-
       tion is run to help you change some of the most  common  settings.   It
       won't appear if your administrator has disabled the zsh/newuser module.
       The function is designed to be self-explanatory.  You  can  run  it  by
       hand  with  `autoload -Uz zsh-newuser-install; zsh-newuser-install -f'.
       See also the section User Configuration Functions in zshcontrib(1).

       Interaction with the shell uses the builtin Zsh Line Editor, ZLE.  This
       is described in detail in zshzle(1).

       The  first  decision a user must make is whether to use the Emacs or Vi
       editing mode as the  keys  for  editing  are  substantially  different.
       Emacs  editing  mode  is probably more natural for beginners and can be
       selected explicitly with the command bindkey -e.

       A history mechanism for retrieving previously typed lines (most  simply
       with  the  Up or Down arrow keys) is available; note that, unlike other
       shells, zsh will not save these lines when the shell exits  unless  you
       set  appropriate variables, and the number of history lines retained by
       default is quite small (30 lines).  See the description  of  the  shell
       variables  (referred  to  in the documentation as parameters) HISTFILE,
       HISTSIZE and SAVEHIST in zshparam(1).  Note that  it's  currently  only
       possible  to  read  and  write  files  saving history when the shell is
       interactive, i.e. it does not work from scripts.

       The shell now supports the UTF-8 character set (and also others if sup-
       ported  by  the  operating system).  This is (mostly) handled transpar-
       ently by the shell, but the degree of support in terminal emulators  is
       variable.   There  is  some  discussion  of  this  in  the  shell  FAQ,
       http://www.zsh.org/FAQ/.  Note in particular that for combining charac-
       ters to be handled the option COMBINING_CHARS needs to be set.  Because
       the shell is now more sensitive to the definition of the character set,
       note  that  if you are upgrading from an older version of the shell you
       should ensure that the appropriate variable, either LANG (to affect all
       aspects  of the shell's operation) or LC_CTYPE (to affect only the han-
       dling of character sets) is set to an appropriate value.  This is  true
       even  if you are using a single-byte character set including extensions
       of ASCII such as ISO-8859-1 or ISO-8859-15.   See  the  description  of
       LC_CTYPE in zshparam(1).

       Completion  is  a feature present in many shells. It allows the user to
       type only a part (usually the prefix) of a word and have the shell fill
       in  the rest.  The completion system in zsh is programmable.  For exam-
       ple, the shell can be set to complete email addresses in  arguments  to
       the  mail command from your ~/.abook/addressbook; usernames, hostnames,
       and even remote paths in arguments to scp, and so  on.   Anything  that
       can  be written in or glued together with zsh can be the source of what
       the line editor offers as possible completions.

       Zsh has two completion systems, an old, so  called  compctl  completion
       (named  after  the builtin command that serves as its complete and only
       user interface), and a new one, referred to as  compsys,  organized  as
       library  of builtin and user-defined functions.  The two systems differ
       in their interface for specifying the  completion  behavior.   The  new
       system  is  more customizable and is supplied with completions for many
       commonly used commands; it is therefore to be preferred.

       The completion system must be enabled explicitly when the shell starts.
       For more information see zshcompsys(1).

   Extending the line editor
       Apart from completion, the line editor is highly extensible by means of
       shell functions.  Some useful functions are provided  with  the  shell;
       they provide facilities such as:

              composing characters not found on the keyboard

              configuring what the line editor considers a word when moving or
              deleting by word

       history-beginning-search-backward-end, etc.
              alternative ways of searching the shell history

       replace-string, replace-pattern
              functions for replacing strings or patterns globally in the com-
              mand line

              edit the command line with an external editor.

       See  the  section  `ZLE Functions' in zshcontrib(1) for descriptions of

       The shell has a large number of options  for  changing  its  behaviour.
       These  cover  all aspects of the shell; browsing the full documentation
       is the only good way to become acquainted with the many  possibilities.
       See zshoptions(1).

       The  shell  has  a  rich  set  of patterns which are available for file
       matching (described in the documentation as `filename  generation'  and
       also  known for historical reasons as `globbing') and for use when pro-
       gramming.  These are described in the section `Filename Generation'  in

       Of particular interest are the following patterns that are not commonly
       supported by other systems of pattern matching:

       **     for matching over multiple directories

       |      for matching either of two alternatives

       ~, ^   the  ability  to  exclude  patterns  from  matching   when   the
              EXTENDED_GLOB option is set

       (...)  glob  qualifiers, included in parentheses at the end of the pat-
              tern, which select  files  by  type  (such  as  directories)  or
              attribute (such as size).

       Although  the  syntax  of zsh is in ways similar to the Korn shell, and
       therefore more remotely to the original UNIX shell, the  Bourne  shell,
       its  default  behaviour  does  not entirely correspond to those shells.
       General shell syntax is introduced in the section  `Shell  Grammar'  in

       One  commonly encountered difference is that variables substituted onto
       the command line are not split into words.  See the description of  the
       shell option SH_WORD_SPLIT in the section `Parameter Expansion' in zsh-
       expn(1).  In zsh, you can either explicitly request the splitting (e.g.
       ${=foo})  or  use  an  array when you want a variable to expand to more
       than one word.  See the section `Array Parameters' in zshparam(1).

       The most convenient way of adding enhancements to the  shell  is  typi-
       cally  by  writing  a  shell  function  and  arranging  for  it  to  be
       autoloaded.  Functions are described in the section `Functions' in zsh-
       misc(1).   Users  changing  from  the  C shell and its relatives should
       notice that aliases are less used in zsh as they don't perform argument
       substitution, only simple text replacement.

       A few general functions, other than those for the line editor described
       above, are provided with the shell and are described in  zshcontrib(1).
       Features include:

              a  prompt theme system for changing prompts easily, see the sec-
              tion `Prompt Themes'

              a MIME-handling system which dispatches  commands  according  to
              the suffix of a file as done by graphical file managers

       zcalc  a calculator

       zargs  a version of xargs that makes the find command redundant

       zmv    a command for renaming files by means of shell patterns.

zsh 5.8                        February 14, 2020                 ZSHROADMAP(1)