I've just switched to zsh. However, I really don't like how the time builtin command also outputs the command that it's timing. I much prefer the bash style output. Anyone know how to switch it over?


[casqa1:~/temp]$ time grep foo /dev/null
/usr/local/gnu/bin/grep --color -i foo /dev/null  0.00s user 0.00s system 53% cpu 0.004 total


[casqa1:~/temp]$ bash
casqa1.nyc:~/temp> time grep foo /dev/null

real        0.0
user        0.0
sys         0.0




This is fairly close:

$ TIMEFMT=$'\nreal\t%E\nuser\t%U\nsys\t%S'

$ time sleep 1

real    1.01s
user    0.00s
sys     0.00s
  • 8
    My proposed edit was rejected 2-1. Ideally, the format should be TIMEFMT=$'\nreal\t%*E\nuser\t%*U\nsys\t%*S'. The *s in the flags formats them as hours/minutes as per bash, instead of just seconds. More information on TIMEFMT here.
    – Sparhawk
    May 16 '16 at 7:49
  • I'm trying to get colours with something like: export TIMEFMT="%J \033[1;32m%U\033[0m user \e[1;32m%S\e[0m system \e[1;32m%P\e[0m cpu \e[1;32m%*E\e[0m total", but it is just printing the raw string instead of colours. Is this possible?
    – Sahas
    Nov 7 '20 at 12:08

Another option is to disable the builtin command and use the time binary provided by your operating system. I have the following in my .zshrc:

disable -r time       # disable shell reserved word
alias time='time -p ' # -p for POSIX output

This way time outputs to STDERR.


Just a small precision regarding Dennis Williamson's very useful answer (the "fairly close" part): bash's built-in time outputs to stderr, while zsh's outputs to stdout.

This command can illustrate the difference: time (echo abc) 2>/dev/null

In bash, it outputs:

    $ time (echo abc) 2>/dev/null

In zsh, with the suggested TIMEFMT variable:

    $ time (echo abc) 2>/dev/null

    real    0.00s
    user    0.00s
    sys     0.00s

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