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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

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:

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

Editing the 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.

  1. 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 Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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