I would like to use the abbreviations feature of the fish shell, especially for the known bash variable !! or aliases to common git commands. I know that abbreviations can be added like in the following snippet:

abbr -a gco git checkout

I also know that this setting is persisted in a file located at .config/fish/fishd.host, but this file is also saying that it should not be edited, since changes might be lost (because the file is auto generated).

So my question is how to add this abbreviations in a config file, because I want to put my dotfiles in a git repository. And if I use these dotfiles on a separate machine I don't want to execute all these abbr command again.

  • Did you ever find a good way to do this? I agree that the answer below isn't so useful. – ezuk Apr 3 '16 at 6:02
  • No, I didn't yet :-/ – Daniel Rotter Apr 5 '16 at 7:37

Sorry, I'm not sure if I understand what you're asking. But if your question is how to set your abbr definitions on startup (and in a file that you can store in a repository and share between machines), you should use the file ~/.config/fish/config.fish which is Fish's equivalent to .bashrc in Bash.

Since abbreviations are stored in global/universal variables, they don't need to be reset every time you open a terminal window, so you can place a safeguard in that config file to prevent resetting them every time (speeding things up a bit), as explained here: https://github.com/fish-shell/fish-shell/issues/1976#issuecomment-168698602

Edit (April 2019):

After Fish changed the way universal variables are stored in version 3.0.0 the safeguard functionality seems to prevent changes made in the abbr list to be included also after opening new terminal windows or rebooting one's machine. So, I've removed those lines from the example.

E.g. my config.fish looks like this (for Git commands):

  echo -n Setting abbreviations... 

  abbr g 'git'
  abbr ga 'git add'
  abbr gb 'git branch'
  abbr gbl 'git blame'
  abbr gc 'git commit -m'
  abbr gca 'git commit --amend -m'
  abbr gco 'git checkout'
  abbr gcp 'git cherry-pick'
  abbr gd 'git diff'
  abbr gf 'git fetch'
  abbr gl 'git log'
  abbr gm 'git merge'
  abbr gp 'git push'
  abbr gpf 'git push --force-with-lease'
  abbr gpl 'git pull'
  abbr gr 'git remote'
  abbr grb 'git rebase'
  abbr gs 'git status'
  abbr gst 'git stash'

  echo 'Done'
  • 1
    Thanks for this, reading the docs (fishshell.com/docs/current/commands.html) below the first snippet of code, the paragraph is really vague about it and only says it will "slow down the shell" but does not offer this incredibly simple alternative alongside it, cheers again! – SidOfc Feb 7 '18 at 20:34

Fixed this! What I ended up doing is just making the output of abbr -s into a Fish script. So in brief:

abbr -s > abbr.fish
(edit abbr.fish, add the following line to the top:) #! /usr/bin/fish
chmod +x abbr.fish

And you're done!

All you have to do now is just run abbr.fish on any Fish machine you want your abbreviations on, and presto.


Abbreviations are stored as universal variables in fish, so, in my opinion, they are more suitable to be used interactively as a quick & dirty™ way to persist your favorite expansions.

If you would like this configuration to be available in other boxes and sync them up with your dotfiles, I recommend creating a function as gco.fish, etc., for each abbreviation instead.

  • gco.fish

    function gco
        command git checkout $argv

Functions are lazily loaded in fish and will always perform better than running abbr (which is also not a fish builtin, but a regular function with a definition type abbr) for each abbreviation in your config.fish.

  • 1
    But this way the aliases won't auto expand as if they were abbreviations, or do they? That's like the coolest thing about the abbreviations ;-) – Daniel Rotter Mar 8 '16 at 6:56
  • Yes, you are correct. It's a small tradeoff. I personally don't use abbr as they are implemented using universal variables and those, while super handy, it's something I will avoid if I can. – Jorge Bucaran Mar 8 '16 at 10:23
  • 3
    Another disadvantage is that auto complete doesn't work for me anymore... Typing gco <tab> doesn't show the branches anymore... – Daniel Rotter Mar 8 '16 at 21:03
  • @DanielRotter It would be too good if the function could inherit completions automatically. But the good news is, it would not be hard at all to use complete to copy the existing git completions into each of the functions. You will need a directory for your "git aliases", a functions directory for each function and a completions directory to add your completions, ideally one for each function too, but not necessarily so. – Jorge Bucaran Mar 9 '16 at 2:15
  • It is an answer, though I must say I wouldn't opt for this either due to aforementioned comments (e.g. breaking things that you'd use abbreviations for). Also, using complete isn't something most users setting up a shell want to be bothered with. It's not all that trivial, requires reading up on (not all that clear IMO) docs and learning the programs you wish to "polyfill" the completions for (to some deeper extent than you might imagine at first). Also, what about updates? Won't be fun keeping all your custom completions up-to-date either :) – SidOfc Jun 5 '19 at 8:51

I have been trying fish again, and found a solution which is working for me now. It is also described that way in the fish documentation.

They simply suggest to reset fish_user_abbreviations and call every abbr again and again. (I didn't even use the if in my case, also works well)

if status --is-interactive
    set -g fish_user_abbreviations
    abbr --add first 'echo my first abbreviation'
    abbr --add second 'echo my second abbreviation'
    # etcetera

It's actually similar to what MJV suggested, but without the downside that it is cached. The tradeoff is probably that startup is a little bit slower, but I'll keep an eye on that. I am going with that variant, since it is also mentioned in the documentation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.