Understanding Shells: A Basic Guide


In computing, a shell is a user interface that provides access to various services of an operating system's kernel. Shells can be either graphical or command-line based, with the latter being prevalent in Unix-like systems, including macOS and Linux.

List of Common Shells

Shells come in various forms and serve multiple purposes, from simple command execution to full scripting capabilities. Here are some of the most commonly used shells:

  1. Bash (Bourne Again Shell) - The most widespread shell on Linux systems and older macOS versions. It is an enhanced version of the original Bourne shell (sh).

  2. Zsh (Z Shell) - Known for its improvements over Bash, offering better user customization, completion features, and scripting facilities. Zsh is the default shell in newer versions of macOS.

How to Check Your Shell on macOS

Using Terminal Commands

  • Step 1: Open your Terminal application. This can typically be found in the Utilities folder under Applications.

  • Step 2: To find out the default shell, type the following command and press Enter:

      echo $SHELL


    Knowing how to check and change your default shell is a valuable skill in the Unix-like operating system domain.