I was trying to transfer my terminal setup (iTerm2, zsh, oh-my-zsh, omz themes) from an old MacBook to a new one.

.zshrc real file is in Dropbox shared between the two laptops, and in each laptop there's a ~/.zshrc symlink to the Dropbox one.

With this setup, I encountered this error in the new laptop:

someuser@Someusers-MacBook-Pro ~ % source ~/.zshrc
/Users/someuser/.zshrc:source:78: no such file or directory: ~/.oh-my-zsh/oh-my-zsh.sh
/Users/someuser/.zshrc:source:112: no such file or directory: /Users/someuser/.rcsource
someuser@Someusers-MacBook-Pro ~ % ls  ~/.oh-my-zsh/oh-my-zsh.sh
someuser@Someusers-MacBook-Pro ~ % cat ~/.zshrc | grep oh-my-zsh
# Path to your oh-my-zsh installation.
export ZSH="~/.oh-my-zsh"
# load a random theme each time oh-my-zsh is loaded, in which case,
source $ZSH/oh-my-zsh.sh

As you can see, the output doesn't make any sense. It complains about not being able to find ~/.oh-my-zsh/oh-my-zsh.sh yet when I do ls on that path, it shows that it exists.

2 Answers 2


~ is a shell shorthand for your home directory, not part of an actual valid path. In some situations, the shell will expand ~ into the actual path, but not if it's in quotes. Just replace this:

export ZSH="~/.oh-my-zsh"    # Doesn't work because ~ is quoted

with either this:

export ZSH=~/.oh-my-zsh    # No quotes, so ~ expands to home directory path

or this:

export ZSH="$HOME/.oh-my-zsh"    # Parameters do expand in double-quotes

The tilde ~ in a parameter does not expanded by default, only when the option GLOB_SUBST is set, see man zshoptions. Maybe this option is hidden somewhere in your old (global) config, e.g. in /etc/zshrc.

So, to give some examples:

$ foo="~/.zshrc"
$ ls $foo
ls: cannot access '~/.zshrc': No such file or directory
$ ls ${~foo}
$ setopt GLOB_SUBST
$ ls $foo

The syntax ${~foo} temporarily enables GLOB_SUBST for the current expansion, see PARAMETER EXPANSION in man zshexpn.

So, to cut a long story short: The simplest solution is to replace ~ in the line export ZSH="~/.oh-my-zsh" with /Users/someuser.

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