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Awesome Open Source

You Should Use

CircleCI Version GPLv3

Simple zsh plugin that reminds you that you should use one of your existing aliases for a command you just typed.

Also supports detection of global and git aliases.


Advanced Features


You can also view the CHANGELOG for a history of changes.


You dont need to do anything. Once it's installed, zsh-you-should-use will let you know if you wrote a command with an existing alias.


you-should-use also detects global aliases:


and Git aliases:



you-should-use officially supports zsh versions 5.1 onwards.

It is possible the plugin might work on even older versions. However they would not have been tested as part of the CI test process.


Add one of the following to your .zshrc file depending on your package manager:


zplug "MichaelAquilina/zsh-you-should-use"


antigen bundle "MichaelAquilina/zsh-you-should-use"


zgen load "MichaelAquilina/zsh-you-should-use"


Install zsh-you-should-use with Fig in just one click.

Install with Fig


Copy this repository to $ZSH_CUSTOM/custom/plugins, where $ZSH_CUSTOM is the directory with custom plugins of oh-my-zsh (read more):

git clone $ZSH_CUSTOM/plugins/you-should-use

Then add this line to your .zshrc. Make sure it is before the line source $ZSH/

plugins=(you-should-use $plugins)

Arch Linux

Install the zsh-you-should-use (AUR) package:

yay -S zsh-you-should-use

Then add this line to your .zshrc:

source /usr/share/zsh/plugins/zsh-you-should-use/you-should-use.plugin.zsh

Message Position

By default, you-should-use will display its reminder message before a command has executed. However, you can choose to display the mesasge after a command has executed by setting the value of YSU_MESSAGE_POSITION.


Displaying Results

By default, you-should-use will display the best match from any matching aliases found. However, you can change this behaviour so that it displays all matches found by setting the value of YSU_MODE.

  • To only display best match (default): export YSU_MODE=BESTMATCH
  • To display all matches: export YSU_MODE=ALL

Customising Messages

By default, the following message is displayed in bold when an alias is found:

Found existing %alias_type for "%command". You should use: "%alias"

Where the following variables represent:

  • %alias_type - the type of alias detected (alias, git alias, global alias)
  • %command - the command that was typed by the user
  • %alias - the matching alias that was found

This default message can be customised by setting the YSU_MESSAGE_FORMAT environment variable.

If for example, you wish to display your own custom message in red, you can add the following to your ~/.zshrc:

export YSU_MESSAGE_FORMAT="$(tput setaf 1)Hey! I found this %alias_type for %command: %alias$(tput sgr0)"

$(tput setaf 1) generates the escape code terminals use for red foreground text. $(tput sgr0) sets the text back to a normal color.

You can read more about how you can use tput and terminal escape codes here:

Hardcore Mode

For the brave and adventerous only

You can enable Hardcore mode to enforce the use of aliases. Enabling this will cause zsh to refuse to execute commands you have entered if an alternative alias for it exists. This is a handy way of forcing you to use your aliases and help you turn those aliases into muscle memory.

Enable hardcore mode by setting the variable YSU_HARDCORE to 1.


Now if you type a command that has an alias defined and you didnt use it, zsh will refuse to execute that command:

$ export YSU_HARDCORE=1
$ ls -lh
Found existing alias for "ls -lh". You should use: "ll"
You Should Use hardcore mode enabled. Use your aliases!
$ ll
total 8.0K
-rw-r--r-- 1 michael users 2.4K Jun 19 20:46
-rw-r--r-- 1 michael users  650 Jun 19 20:42 you-should-use.plugin.zsh

Check your Alias usage

It's often useful to check how often we use our aliases so that we have an idea of which ones we could probably get rid of (or remind ourselves of them if we forgot). zsh-you-should-use provides a convenience function check_alias_usage which you can run to analyse your alias usage.

$ check_alias_usage
924: curl='curl --silent'
652: gco='git checkout'
199: json='jq '.' -C'
157: less='less -R'
100: ll='ls -lh --group-directories-first'
93: vim='nvim'
76: watch='watch '
61: v='vim'
60: md='mkdir'
39: gr='git rebase'
38: dc='docker-compose'
35: ls='ls --color=auto'
33: h='history'
28: dcr='docker-compose

check_alias_usage analyses your history to generate this data for you. If your history is disabled or if you limit your history to a certain amount of time, then the alias report generated will be a reflection of the limited data available.

Optionally, you can limit how far check_alias_usage looks back in history by providing an optional numeric parameter. This parameter specifies how many entries in the history to check when generating the report. In the example below, history is limited to the last 200 entries when generating the alias report.

$ check_alias_usage 200
9: h='history'
3: gpoh='git push -u origin HEAD'
3: gco='git checkout'
2: v='vim'
2: ll='ls -lh --group-directories-first'
2: gpohw='gpoh && git web --pull-request'
2: gc='git commit'
2: gap='git add -p'
2: ap='ansible-playbook'
1: xopen='GDK_BACKEND=wayland xdg-open'
1: t='tig'
1: gw='git web'
1: gs='git status'

Disable Hints for specific Aliases

You can tell you-should-use to permanently ignore certain aliases by including them in the YSU_IGNORED_ALIASES variable (which is an array):

$ ls -l
Found existing alias for "ls -l". You should use: "ll"

$ export YSU_IGNORED_ALIASES=("g" "ll")
$ ls -l

If you want to ignore global aliases, use the YSU_IGNORED_GLOBAL_ALIASES environment variable.

$ cd ../..
Found existing global alias for "../..". You should use: "..."

$ cd ../..

Temporarily Disabling Messages

You can temporarily disable you should use by running the command disable_you_should_use.

When you want to re-enable messages, run the command enable_you_should_use.


Pull requests and Feedback are welcome! 🎉

I have tried to cater for as many use cases that I can think of. However, they are naturally tailored to to my own workflow and I could be missing many others.

Because of this if there is a specific use case that does not work as you would expect or if you have any suggestions to how the plugin should behave, feel free to open an issue

Running Tests

Install zunit. Run zunit in the root directory of the repo.

$ zunit
Launching ZUnit
ZUnit: 0.8.2
ZSH:   zsh 5.3.1 (x86_64-suse-linux-gnu)

 ysu message correct output
 ysu global message correct output
 ysu git message correct output

NOTE: It is required that you use a minimum zunit version of 0.8.2

NOTE: The tests that run move your git configuration to a temporary location during the test process so that your user configuration does not interfere with tests. This will be restored at the end of each test so there is no risk in losing your settings. If for some strange reason zunit crashes or does not restore your git configuration automatically, all you need to do is run mv ~/.gitconfig.bak ~/.gitconfig

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