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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 Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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