Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Reset Your Zsh Configuration

Ubuntu 18

The Zsh (Z shell) is a Unix shell that can be used as an interactive login shell and as a command interpreter for shell scripting. It comes with a host of features and improvements over the Bash shell. However, like any other software, you may encounter issues with your Zsh configuration that require a reset. This article will guide you through the process of resetting your Zsh configuration.

Quick Answer

To reset your Zsh configuration, you need to remove the .zshrc file, reopen your terminal, verify Zsh in /etc/shells, set Zsh as the default shell, and verify your FPATH. If you’re using a Zsh framework like Oh My Zsh, you should copy the standard default .zshrc file provided by the framework.

Understanding Zsh Configuration

The Zsh configuration is stored in a file called .zshrc located in your home directory. This file contains settings, aliases, functions, and other elements that define your Zsh environment. If you’ve customized your Zsh shell and something isn’t working correctly, resetting the configuration might solve the problem.

Step 1: Removing the .zshrc file

The first step in resetting your Zsh configuration is to remove the .zshrc file. Open your terminal and run the following command:

rm -f ~/.zshrc*

This command removes the .zshrc file and any .zshrc.??? swap files you may have left over from previous edits. The -f option in the rm command is used to force deletion, ignoring nonexistent files and not prompting for confirmation.

Step 2: Reopen Your Terminal

Close your terminal session and re-open it. This action should trigger the “new user” screen, allowing you to create a new recommended starting point for your .zshrc configuration. Select the options from the menu prompts to add any prompts or other options you need.

Step 3: Verify Zsh in /etc/shells

Ensure that Zsh is listed in the /etc/shells file. You can verify this by running the command:

which zsh

This command displays the path to your Zsh shell. If Zsh is not listed in the /etc/shells file, you can add it manually.

Step 4: Set Zsh as the Default Shell

To set Zsh as your default shell, run the command:

chsh -s $(which zsh)

The chsh command changes your login shell. The -s option is used to specify the shell, and $(which zsh) returns the path to the Zsh shell.

Step 5: Verify Your FPATH

Verify that your FPATH contains the Zsh functions and site-functions folders. The FPATH is a colon-separated list of directories that Zsh scans for function definitions.

Using a Zsh Framework

If you’re using a Zsh framework like Oh My Zsh, the process is slightly different. Instead of just deleting the .zshrc file, you should copy the standard default .zshrc file provided by the framework. For example, Oh My Zsh provides a template file in its GitHub repository: zshrc.zsh-template.


Resetting your Zsh configuration can help resolve issues caused by incorrect settings or customizations. Remember to back up your current .zshrc file before resetting if you want to preserve any custom settings. After following these steps, your Zsh configuration should be reset to its default state, and you can start customizing it anew.

How can I find the `.zshrc` file in my home directory?

You can find the .zshrc file in your home directory by running the command ls -a ~ | grep .zshrc. The -a option in the ls command lists all files, including hidden ones, and the grep .zshrc command filters the results to only show files with the .zshrc name.

Can I reset my Zsh configuration without deleting the `.zshrc` file?

Yes, you can reset your Zsh configuration without deleting the .zshrc file. Instead of removing the file, you can open it in a text editor and delete or comment out any lines that you want to reset. Save the file and reopen your terminal for the changes to take effect.

How do I add Zsh to the `/etc/shells` file manually?

To add Zsh to the /etc/shells file manually, open the file in a text editor with root privileges. Add the path to the Zsh shell at the end of the file, for example: /usr/bin/zsh. Save the changes and exit the text editor. Now Zsh should be listed in the /etc/shells file.

What should I do if I encounter issues after resetting my Zsh configuration?

If you encounter issues after resetting your Zsh configuration, you can try troubleshooting by checking for any error messages in your terminal or reviewing the changes you made to the configuration. You can also seek help from online forums or communities dedicated to Zsh users for assistance.

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