I have a .bash_profile file that I added some stuff to (aliases and color and some git stuff) and when I open iTerm and source it then everything's fine and I have everything but when I close iTerm and reopen it then no colors and no aliases until I source it again.

What should I do to permanently source it?

Is it maybe sourcing another file? How can I check that?

EDIT: I checked my iTerm preferences, and the "login shell" option is checked so I imagine it should source it when i open iTerm.

  • .bash_profile should be sourced automatically. Does it work with Terminal.app? In your iTerm settings, what is the Command being called under Preferences » Profiles » Default » General?
    – slhck
    Mar 28 '13 at 10:18
  • no command, 'login shell' is checked
    – levtatarov
    Mar 28 '13 at 10:24
  • Does it work in Terminal? Have you tried temporarily moving ~/Library/Preferences/com.googlecode.iterm2.plist somewhere else?
    – Lri
    Apr 16 '13 at 11:21
  • This page and the answers helped me with this issue, but also errors in your .bash_profile can cause code not to execute, in my case it was a [ character in an unescaped password string that stopped subsequent commands executing
    – chim
    Nov 9 '17 at 13:53
  • For me, I had to write source ~/.bash_profile in my ~/env.sh. This post basically helped me.
    – Sufian
    May 30 '18 at 11:08

It's also possible that your terminal shell is defaulting to sh instead of bash. You can verify this first:

 $ echo $SHELL

To change this to bash, you can go into your Terminal -> Preferences -> Startup tab, and change "Shell Opens With:" from "Default login shell" to Command and value "/bin/bash".

Alternately, you can change your default shell by executing the following command at the command prompt:

chsh -s bin/bash

After you do one of these, open a new shell window, and your .bash_profile should be sourced.

  • 3
    chsh -s /bin/bash worked for me.
    – MiniGunnR
    May 23 '18 at 6:43
  • Definitely need the leading "/"
    – joehanna
    Feb 6 at 3:07

Ok so I dug deeper into it and it's trying to source .profile and I, instead, had .bash_profile. So I created a ~/.profile file and copied the content of .bash_profile into it, and then - WORKS! It is sourced whenever I start iTerm or Terminal.

  • If both ~/.bash_profile and ~/.profile exist and are readable, bash should only execute ~/.bash_profile (see /usr/share/doc/bash/bash.html). Does ls -l ~/.bash_profile print something like -rw-r--r-- 1 username?
    – Lri
    Apr 16 '13 at 12:22
  • ls -l ~/.bash_profile prints -rw-r--r--@ 1 username staff ... date . Is the @ a problem? Jun 26 '14 at 13:22
  • I am having this same problem. And when I run that command I get the same thing as you Etienne Low Decarie.
    – wuno
    Nov 11 '16 at 5:55

.profile, .bash_profile and similar files are only sourced by "login" shells. In other words, only when you log in to the system. Therefore it does not make sense to set aliases there.

Keep only environment variables (export commands) in .bash_profile. Use ~/.bashrc for everything else. Source it from .bash_profile too.

  • 4
    OS X terminals launch login shells by default.
    – slhck
    Mar 28 '13 at 10:17
  • 1
    In my case, I am using mac zsh terminal, so I had to move the contents of my old .bash_profile to .zprofile, checkout this solution: superuser.com/a/187673/428141 that worked for me
    – s_bighead
    Apr 23 '20 at 18:03

I was thinking on .bash_profile then I forgot to login and doesn't work, if you login your .bash_profile will work perfectly.


$ login
$ login: (your name here)
$ password: (your password here)

I had this same problem. I fixed it by going to iTerm > Preferences > General. Select your desired profile (if you have more than one) and toggle the Command option and input /usr/local/bin/bash -l. If you don't have Homebrew installed then it will likely be /bin/bash -l. If you aren't sure, type the command $which bash and it will tell which executable you are running. Moreover, if you are on OS X, I highly recommend learning why you want Homebrew and how to install it. Note that its L and not I depending on your font. By adding the flag -l it starts bash in login mode and NOT interactive mode. If it starts in login mode then it will source your .bash_profile. This worked for me, hopefully it will help you!


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