I'm trying to change the Login Shell of Mac OS X from bash to zsh. I see it is possible in Mac OS X Leopard, but for OS X Lion I can't find a way. I really hope it is possible to change the Login shell from bash to something else. I am not exactly sure where to look for.

  • After changing shell to zsh, I still had to launch zsh manually. Logging out didn't help. I then changed zsh to the upmost login shell. Logged out and there it was.
    – user107694
    Dec 1, 2011 at 16:06
  • 1
    If nothing else, you can always modify the .bashrc to find and exec zsh. if [ -x /usr/local/bin/zsh ] ; then exec /usr/local/bin/zsh fi. Hint, when modifying shell startup scripts, make sure to keep a shell running and start up a new one in another window - if you break it you still have an easy place to fix it.
    – Dan Pritts
    Sep 30, 2013 at 13:23

5 Answers 5


You can change user shell by the following command:

chsh -s /bin/zsh

Note: To change it for a non-standard shell, make sure its path has been added to /etc/shells file.

  • 4
    I installed a newer version of zsh with Homebrew, which put zsh in /usr/local/bin/zsh. Unfortunately, chsh doesn't allow this, saying chsh: /usr/local/bin/zsh: non-standard shell. Daniel Beck's answer is a suitable solution in this case.
    – adam_0
    Feb 2, 2013 at 19:20
  • 43
    If you are getting problems with non-standard shells, I think you should be able to add /usr/local/bin/zsh to /etc/shells and it should solve that problem. Feb 28, 2013 at 10:57
  • 13
    The homebrew zsh install info does actually recommend you to add it to /etc/shells: ==> Caveats To use this build of Zsh as your login shell, add it to /etc/shells.
    – George
    Mar 19, 2013 at 11:20
  • Doesn't work sometimes. @frank's answer ensures it though Jul 22, 2015 at 17:06
  • 1
    @Awesome_girl By default, /etc/shells is owned, and only writable by, root (the superuser). You could, for example, use sudo vi /etc/shells to use sudo (super user do) to run the vi editor to edit /etc/shells. I just tested on my system and confirmed that it is NOT protected by System Integrity Protection, so you should be able to edit it as root without jumping through hoops to disable SIP.
    – Spiff
    Oct 5, 2016 at 20:12

Funnily enough, the same method you link to in your question still works in OS X Lion through Sierra (10.12). The only difference: The preference pane is named Users & Groups instead of Accounts.

  1. Open "System Preferences" → "Users & Groups".
  2. Unless the lock icon is already unlocked, click the lock icon and authenticate yourself.
  3. Context-click on a user in the list of user names (hold down the Control key while clicking, or right-click on a right-handed two button mouse).
  4. In context menu, choose "Advanced Options…".
  5. Choose "Login shell" in the sheet that appears.

The note at the top of the "Advanced Options" screen claims you have to restart for the change to take effect, but you really just need to log out and back in again.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Confirmed that this works in Mountain Lion, as well as working with "non-standard shells" that you might install yourself (or have Homebrew install).
    – adam_0
    Feb 2, 2013 at 19:21
  • 3
    Confirmed still working in 10.10 Yosemite.
    – ecnepsnai
    Sep 8, 2014 at 3:44
  • 4
    right click on the username to bring up the menu containing "advanced options". That took me a couple of minutes to find.
    – pdwalker
    Dec 16, 2014 at 12:37
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    Why force someone to go offsite to gather all the information before being able to the answer? Hence the comment in case someone else makes the same assumption that the answer is here rather than here and there.
    – pdwalker
    Dec 19, 2014 at 7:44
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    @jvriesem Actually, it does. My guess is you skipped step 2.
    – Daniel Beck
    May 5, 2017 at 22:00


sudo dscl . change /users/$USER UserShell /bin/bash $(which zsh)
  • 3
    Can you explain why this answers the question?
    – ChrisF
    Nov 25, 2012 at 10:55
  • Be sure to run this after brew install zsh.
    – mmell
    Mar 11, 2014 at 16:04
  • 3
    Also, be careful that the path of zsh installed via homebrew is different. I do it as: sudo dscl . change /users/$USER UserShell /bin/bash $(which zsh)
    – metakermit
    Mar 25, 2015 at 13:42
  • 1
    WARNING: This will break your shell if you copy / paste it without checking the path of zsh first. Do what metakermit said instead.
    – radixhound
    Apr 4, 2016 at 13:51

If anyone wondering same problem happens on macOS Sierra and following command allowed me to change shell without problems:

chpass -s /usr/local/bin/zsh
  • 1
    This duplicates another answer and adds no new content. Please don't post an answer unless you actually have something new to contribute. "chfn and chsh are synonyms for chpass."
    – DavidPostill
    Dec 2, 2016 at 12:16

Running this

sudo dscl . -create /Users/$USER UserShell /usr/local/bin/zsh

worked for me to fix

(eval):setopt:3: no such option: NO_warnnestedvar

which popped up everytime autocomplete should kick in

found in https://rick.cogley.info/post/use-homebrew-zsh-instead-of-the-osx-default/

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