How To Change The Default Interactive Shell Is Now Zsh?

With the release of Mac OS Catalina, many users started getting the message The default interactive shell is now zsh on Terminal. So what exactly does the message refer to?

The message means that the shell you use to interact with Terminal is now zsh. Originally, Mac OS used bash as the shell language. This changed when Catalina was released. This alert is usually displayed whenever you open the Terminal and does not affect what you do there.

Those who do not use Terminal need not worry anything about this message. But if you are someone who uses Terminal and wants Bash back, jump right into this article, where we show you how to do this.

What Does the Message ‘the Default Interactive Shell is Now Zsh’ Mean?

When you launch Terminal for the first time on Mac OS Catalina, you see this message pop up. It merely indicates that zsh is now the default language to interact with the command line.

Previously, it was bash, which is popular among users who use the Linux operating system.

Did you know: Z shell is also referred to as zsh in the Terminal.

This message is nothing to get anxious about. If you don’t use Terminal, you can forget about it. It won’t affect any of your apps. But if you run command line scripts, you should note this.

Why is Mac OS Moving Away From Bash to Zsh?

Mac OS is based on Unix, the open source operating system. That means it shares many things with open-source Linux. Due to this, the interactive shell used to interact with the command line was Bash.

Apple switched to zsh as the language for the interactive shell with the release of Mac OS Catalina in 2020. While bash is many people’s favorite, Apple changed it due to licensing reasons.

Bash now uses a different license than what it used to. Right now, it is licensed using the GPL V3.

But Mac OS used to ship with an older version (v3.2) of Bash that was licensed using GPL V2. Apple clearly favors the older licensing, and that‘s why Bash was stuck at the old version on Mac OS even before Catalina.

Now, for users who are not using the Terminal or the shell language, they can simply ignore this message. But others need to update the zsh to the latest version when they are using Terminal.

How To Remove Default Interactive Shell Is Now Zsh Message?

To remove the message about zsh on Terminal, you can change the interactive shell to Bash from the Mac OS settings. Or, simply, you can hide this message from Terminal. 

As Bash is outdated on Mac OS, upgrading to a newer version is recommended. We will do this using Homebrew, which is a package Manager for Mac.

1. Change Interactive Shell to Bash

Even though Mac OS moved away from using Bash as the interactive shell, it comes built-in with the system. That means you can switch back to Bash if you want. Let’s look at how to do this on Mac OS.

  • Press the Apple icon and go to System Preferences.
Press the Apple icon and go to System Preferences
  • Open User and Groups.
Open User and Groups
  • Click your user account from the list and press the lock icon. After that, enter your account’s password.
Click your user account from the list and press the lock icon
  • Right-click on the user account and open Advanced Options.
Right-click on the user account and open Advanced Options
  • Click on the dropdown next to the Login shell.
  • Select /bin/bash from the dropdown menu.
Select _bin_bash from the dropdown menu
  • Click OK to save the changes.

Now, Bash is set as the interactive shell language. It is time to update it in the next step. 

2. Update Bash Version

We have already discussed the installed version of Bash in Mac OS is version 3.2, which is way old at this point. So, if you want to use it, the system will likely show an alert that you need to update it.

You can install Bash easily by installing Homebrew on Mac. It manages packages installed on Mac OS, right from the Terminal.

We will do the entire step using Terminal. Just ensure you enter the commands as it is shown below. This avoids any parsing error, and the process completes without any hitch.

  • Open Terminal. You should find it in the app tray at the bottom. There is another way to open it, and that involves opening Finder and navigating it to Applications > Terminal.
  • Type in /bin/bash – -version and press Enter. You should see version 3.2 shown.       
Type in _bin_bash - -version and press Enter
Type in these commands to install homebrew
  • Enter your user account password. Now press the Enter/Return key.
Enter your user account password. Now press the Enter_Return key
  • Copy the two commands and enter them on the Terminal separated by &&. Remember to press the spacebar as you paste the commands individually.
  • Now, type brew update in your Terminal. If Homebrew is installed correctly, you will see that no updates are present.
type brew update in your Terminal

This means we have installed Homebrew successfully. Now, it is time to install Bash.

  • Type in brew install bash and press Enter. It shows you the installation progress.
Type in brew install bash and press Enter
  • To check that Bash has installed the latest version, type in /usr/local/bin/bash – -version for Intel Mac and /opt/homebrew/bin/bash – -version for M1 Mac.
type in _opt_homebrew_bin_bash

You will see the updated version of Bash installed in your system.

3. Hide the Interactive shell message from Terminal

If you are already comfortable with using zsh shell, then the message should not be a problem. Simply hide this and get your work done. Here’s how to do that:

  • Open Finder.
  • Click the Home icon.
  • Find .bash_profile file and double click on the file. Sometimes this file is hidden and you need to enable it to show hidden files on Finder.
  • Add the following command: export BASH_SILENCE_DEPRECATION_WARNING=1
  • Save this file.

Now open Terminal. You should not see any error message about zsh pop up. 

If you’re looking for solutions to common macOS issues, don’t miss our article on resolving “Installer Info on the Recovery Server Is Damaged“.


This section aims to answer questions relevant to the zsh change made on Mac OS. When this was rolled out, many users were worried about it even though it was just an alert.

Why did Apple stop using Bash?

Bash on Mac was stuck on version 3.2 due to a licensing issue. Its newer version used a different license, which Apple did not approve of. With Mac OS Catalina, Bash was changed in preference to the Z shell.

Should I switch to zsh on Mac?

If you are on Mac OS Catalina or later, you already have zsh as the default shell interpreter. Z shell has advanced scripting features and better auto-complete support, which you will enjoy using if you switch to zsh.

Should I use bash or zsh on Mac?

You can use either one as both have their strengths. Bash has been around for a while and has a large selection of tools. Z shell has better customizability and is more interactive. Mac recently switched to zsh from Bash. So, using one entirely depends on your preference.

Final Thoughts

So, now the default shell is back to Bash on your Mac. There is always the option to change it back to zsh, if you want that.

We have used Bash over the years. So, it surprised many users when Apple changed it. But atleast Apple allows you to switch the shell interpreter from Mac OS Settings.

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