(I'm talking about the shell Fish, esp. Fish's Fish.)

For Bash/ZSH, I had ~/.profile with some exports, aliases and other stuff.

I don't want to have a separate config for environment variables for Fish, I want to re-use my ~/.profile. How?

In The FAQ, it is stated that I can at least import those via /usr/local/share/fish/tools/import_bash_settings.py, however I don't really like running that for each Fish-instance.

10 Answers 10


You can use bash to parse /etc/profile and ~/.profile, and then start fish.

  1. Create /usr/local/bin/fishlogin with contents

     #!/bin/bash -l
     exec -l fish "$@"
  2. Make it executable

     sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/fishlogin
  3. Check that it works by running fishlogin and checking that you end up in a Fish shell. Press Control+D to exit the Fish shell.

  4. Add it to /etc/shells

     echo /usr/local/bin/fishlogin | sudo tee -a /etc/shells
  5. Set it as your default shell.

    Under Linux:

     sudo usermod -s /usr/local/bin/fishlogin $USER

    Under macOS:

     chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fishlogin $USER
  • 3
    Just in case anyone is wondering, the mac equivalent of usermod -s /usr/local/bin/fishlogin $USER is chsh -s /usr/local/fishlogin $USER May 10, 2017 at 9:52
  • 2
    If you get chsh: /usr/local/bin/fishlogin: non-standard shell need to add it to /etc/shells Jun 3, 2017 at 22:06
  • 2
    To fully imitate launching fish directly, fish "$@" should be replaced with exec -l fish "$@". exec replaces the bash process with fish, while -l causes that argv[0] for fish is -fish, which signals that this is a login shell.
    – jhrmnn
    Feb 12, 2018 at 10:28
  • 1
    @Sz. Well, nope. Fish does not support subshells in the first place. And even if it did, it would not do so by executing your login shell, so no Bash would be spawned then. Oct 3, 2018 at 11:12
  • 1
    If following this answer bricks anyone else's iTerm2, here's how to recover: in iTerm2, "Profile" -> "General", make sure the "Command" is set to "Command" and enter "/bin/sh" as the command (or /bin/bash). Cmd+N open a new shell, then chsh -s /usr/local/bin/fish. Then undo the beginning steps and change "Command" back to Login Shell.
    – Ascendant
    Nov 28, 2020 at 22:28

For a much cleaner solution, you can use the foreign env plugin:

fenv source ~/.profile
  • 8
    This should be the accepted solution. You could elaborate (install omf) Apr 18, 2018 at 20:36
  • 1
    @JulesRandolph installation of Oh My Fish is not required. The foreign_env fish plugin can be installed alone, it doesn't have dependencies. Oct 20, 2019 at 16:59
  • This doesn't handle aliases, which make up 80% of my .bash_profile, and is therefore useless to me.
    – Ascendant
    Nov 28, 2020 at 22:37
  • You can add @jgillich solution in your .config/fish/config.fish file ``` if status is-interactive fenv source ~/.profile end ``` That way .profile will always be synced with fish :)
    – Fer Mena
    Jun 21, 2022 at 20:46

My current solution (see here for a maybe more recent version):

egrep "^export " ~/.profile | while read e
    set var (echo $e | sed -E "s/^export ([A-Z_]+)=(.*)\$/\1/")
    set value (echo $e | sed -E "s/^export ([A-Z_]+)=(.*)\$/\2/")

    # remove surrounding quotes if existing
    set value (echo $value | sed -E "s/^\"(.*)\"\$/\1/")

    if test $var = "PATH"
        # replace ":" by spaces. this is how PATH looks for Fish
        set value (echo $value | sed -E "s/:/ /g")

        # use eval because we need to expand the value
        eval set -xg $var $value


    # evaluate variables. we can use eval because we most likely just used "$var"
    set value (eval echo $value)

    set -xg $var $value
  • 3
    can you explain what this does? Jan 13, 2017 at 18:00
  • @maxpleaner AFAICT it looks through .profile for export statements and executes them as fish sets. It's kinda hacky, but clever. Oct 9, 2018 at 13:40

You can use bass, a plugin to execute bash commands in fish.

  1. Install bass.

    $ git clone https://github.com/edc/bass.git
    $ cd bass
    $ make install
  2. And then, just put this in your config.fish:

    bass source ~/.profile
  • If you're going to use this method, make sure it isn't too slow. I personally started to notice that my shell startup delay was annoyingly long, and tracked it down to bass.
    – mk12
    Sep 5, 2019 at 21:01
  • @mk12 probably it isn't bass' fault, it is your .profile that has too much going on.
    – rsalmei
    Sep 6, 2019 at 17:21
  • @rsalmei All I had in there was environment variable and alias definitions, with a few if statements. It causes no noticeable delay in bash. So I think it is bass's fault. On the other hand, I'm much happier with the fenv plugin. It's written in shell rather than Python and seems much faster for me.
    – mk12
    Sep 7, 2019 at 18:05
  • Yeah @mk12, it seems to be nice, but also way more limited, as it only captures environment variables. bass on the other hand interprets any bash shell script, and make them run in fish. It certainly will have a bit more overhead, but totally negligible in my experience, but your mileage may vary.
    – rsalmei
    Sep 11, 2019 at 19:41

I tried sourcing .profile on fish startup and it worked like a charm for me.

just do :

echo 'source ~/.profile;clear;' >  ~/.config/fish/config.fish

Restart terminal or iterm2, test an alias from .profile to test.

Note : Won't work with more complex .profile files that use syntax not available in fish - credit @erb

  • Worked for me too! Running MacOSX.
    – Alexar
    Dec 6, 2015 at 3:33
  • 1
    Won't work with more complex .profile files that use syntax not available in fish.
    – erb
    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:12
  • 1
    @erb I agree with you, I added the caveat in the answer. Oct 6, 2016 at 22:54

Install dash and add this line to your config.fish:

env -i HOME=$HOME dash -l -c 'export -p' | sed -e "/PATH/s/'//g;/PATH/s/:/ /g;s/=/ /;s/^export/set -x/" | source
  • Probably don't even need to install dash - just sh will do (which is probably dash) May 21, 2019 at 6:10

You can't. fish's syntax is too different from Bourne shell (/bin/sh) syntax. This is the same reason you can't use .profile with other non-Bourne-derived shells, such as csh and tcsh.

  • I don't want to fully execute .profile. I just want to get all exports from there. One easy way would be to egrep "^export" which would be good enough already for me. Another, more correct solution would be this. Also, I e.g. could run this import_bash_settings.py script which probably does something similar. So, there are obviously many ways to do this. With my question here, I was wondering how others have solved this.
    – Albert
    Jul 11, 2012 at 14:18

If your distribution uses PAM, you could set your environment variables in your ~/.pam_environment file.


You can start Fish from Bash. If you do that, Fish will inherit all environment variables (export FOO=bar) from Bash. At this point, Bash will have already read your .profile (or the like).

bash-3.2$ export TEST="test"
bash-3.2$ fish
cmey@MBP ~> echo $TEST

I managed to solve this by adding the following to my ~/.bashrc file:

if [ $SHLVL -lt 2 ]; then 

This way one does not have to type exit twice when exiting the fish subshell. Bash subshells inside the fish subshell are not affected.


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