By Dan Moren
March 26, 2020 6:30 AM PT
Quick Tip: Customize your Terminal login with a message of the day
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
My adventure resurrecting my Power Mac G3 not only brought to light old files, but also some old computing habits, prompting a question from one Twitter user:
I appreciate the subtle Cowboy Bebop reference in that terminal sceeenshot ðŸ˜…
Is that still a thing in macOS/Unix? Custom launch messages in terminal?
— Jason™ @ SÌ¶aÌ¶kÌ¶uÌ¶rÌ¶aÌ¶-Ì¶CÌ¶oÌ¶nÌ¶ ðŸ˜ž (@yuusharo) March 24, 2020
That custom logon message—aka the Message of the Day or MOTD—was once a staple of the command line, and yes, it is still a thing, even in the most recent version of macOS. Customizing it is simple.
Just pop open a Terminal window, and open the
/etc/motd file in your favorite text editor. I prefer
nano1 so, I would just run this command:
sudo nano /etc/motd
Once you enter your administrator password, you’ll get a blank text edit window into which you can enter a message. Save that file (in
nano, type ctrl-x and then ‘y’ when prompted to save) and the next time you open a new Terminal window, you’ll be greeted with your message of the day. Make sure to make it something upbeat—we all need it these days.
- Nano: the only way to stay out of the vi vs. emacs turf war. ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]
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