ZSH tips

Posted on 2018-10-09 in Trucs et astuces



Useful to have a notification when a long command completes.

To enable it, add zbell to your plugins array if you are using oh-my-zsh or source the definition file.

To configure:

  • The minimum time commands must take for the notification to happen, use: ZBELL_DURATION. For instance ZBELL_DURATION=60.
  • The command zbell must ignore, use: ZBELL_CMD_IGNORE. For instance: ZBELL_CMD_IGNORE=($EDITOR $PAGER git nano less emacs bash ssh su tmux zsh "pipenv shell" "python manage.py shell_plus")

Here is the plugin. It was inspired by https://gist.github.com/jpouellet/5278239/ (I made changes to ignore commands made of multiple words, to report duration only once and to use notify-send to send the notification).

#!/usr/bin/env zsh

# From https://gist.github.com/jpouellet/5278239

# This script prints a bell character when a command finishes
# if it has been running for longer than $zbell_duration seconds.
# If there are programs that you know run long that you don't
# want to bell after, then add them to $zbell_ignore.
# This script uses only zsh builtins so its fast, there's no needless
# forking, and its only dependency is zsh and its standard modules
# Written by Jean-Philippe Ouellet <jpo@vt.edu>
# Made available under the ISC license.

# only do this if we're in an interactive shell
[[ -o interactive ]] || return

# get $EPOCHSECONDS. builtins are faster than date(1)
zmodload zsh/datetime || return

# make sure we can register hooks
autoload -Uz add-zsh-hook || return

# initialize zbell_duration if not set
(( ${+zbell_duration} )) || zbell_duration=${ZBELL_DURATION:-15}

# initialize zbell_ignore if not set
if [[ ${#ZBELL_CMD_IGNORE} -gt 0 ]] && (( ! ${+zbell_ignore} )); then
    for ignore_cmd in ${ZBELL_CMD_IGNORE[*]}; do
(( ${+zbell_ignore} )) || zbell_ignore=($EDITOR $PAGER)

# initialize it because otherwise we compare a date and an empty string
# the first time we see the prompt. it's fine to have lastcmd empty on the
# initial run because it evaluates to an empty string, and splitting an
# empty string just results in an empty array.

# right before we begin to execute something, store the time it started at
zbell_begin() {

# when it finishes, if it's been running longer than $zbell_duration,
# and we dont have an ignored command in the line, then print a bell.
zbell_end() {
    if [[ -z "${zbell_lastcmd}" ]]; then

    time_run=$(( $EPOCHSECONDS - $zbell_timestamp ))
    ran_long=$(( $EPOCHSECONDS - $zbell_timestamp >= $zbell_duration ))

    for ignore_cmd in ${zbell_ignore[*]}; do
        if [[ "${zbell_lastcmd}" == *"${ignore_cmd}"* ]]; then

    if (( ! $has_ignored_cmd )) && (( ran_long )); then
        notify-send "'${zbell_lastcmd}' completed in ${time_run}"


# register the functions as hooks
add-zsh-hook preexec zbell_begin
add-zsh-hook precmd zbell_end