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Tools and Upgrades for your CLI

In this short essay, I would like to introduce you to a list of awesome command-line tools that I have found on the internet.

Most of the tools listed here do one thing really well: they add visual clarity to the text that we are looking at. This is mostly done by colorizing the terminal with syntax highlighting.

Without further ado, let's get started listing them.


exa is a favourite of mine, because it is an almost drop-in replacement for ls, except with saner defaults. It also comes with a saner set of defaults for the tree command.

After installing, you can replace ls and tree with exa by aliasing:

alias ls='exa --long --git -a --header --group'
alias tree='exa --tree --level=2 --long -a --header --git'


tmux is another daily driver of mine. I use it to keep remote terminal sessions persistent, and use it effectively as a workspace manager between projects.


If you're like me, and are accustomed to the nano text editor rather than vim or emacs, then nanorc, a set of syntax highlighting configurations provided by Anthony Scopatz is an awesome addition to your nano toolkit.

(For what it's worth, I wrote this short essay in nano, and nanorc played no small role in making the text readable!)


diff-so-fancy is a drop-in replacement for diff, and makes it so much easier read diffs between two files.

After installation, you can easily replace diff with diff-so-fancy through aliasing:

alias diff="diff-so-fancy"


bat is another one of those instant favourites. I use cat and less often to look through files, but bat takes things to another level. It is basically a mash-up between cat and less, allowing you to scroll through your files in a less-like scrolling fashion, while also providing syntax highlighting for the files you open.

At the same time, it'll let you concatenate two files together (just like cat) and display them to the screen.

After installing, you can replace cat with bat by aliasing as well:

alias cat="bat"


fd is another tool that provides saner syntax than the default find.

After installing, you can replace find with fd by aliasing:

alias find="fd"


ripgrep is a tool that will let you search directories recursively for a particular pattern. This can help you quickly find text inside a file inside the file tree easily.


Vim From Scratch introduced many of the tools shown here, and I want to make sure that the author gets credit for finding and sharing these awesome tools!

James Weis introduced me to tmux while in grad school, and I've been hooked ever since.