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I just ran across a screenshot of someone's terminal:

enter image description here

Is there a list of all of the characters which can be used in a Bash prompt, or can someone get me the character for the star and the right arrow?

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up vote 67 down vote accepted

You can use any printable character, bash doesn't mind. You'll probably want to configure your terminal to support Unicode (in the form of UTF-8).

There are a lot of characters in Unicode, so here are a few tips to help you search through the Unicode charts:

  • You can try to draw the character on Shapecatcher. It tries to recognize a Unicode character in what you draw.
  • You can try to figure out which block the character is in. For example, that weird-looking symbol and that star would be in a block of miscellaneous symbols; characters like Ǫ and ı are latin letters with modifiers; is a mathematical symbol, and so on.
  • You can try to think of a word in the description of the character and look for it in a list of unicode symbol names and descriptions. Gucharmap or Kcharselect can help.

P.S. On Shapecatcher, I got U+2234 THEREFORE for , U+2192 RIGHTWARDS ARROW for , U+263F MERCURY for and U+2605 BLACK STAR for .

In a bash script, up to bash 4.1, you can write a byte by its code point, but not a character. If you want to avoid non-ASCII characters to make your .bashrc resilient to file encoding changes, you'll need to enter the bytes corresponding to these characters in the UTF-8 encoding. You can see the hexidecimal values by running echo ∴ → ☿ ★ | hexdump -C in a UTF-8 terminal, e.g. is encoded by \xe2\x88\xb4 in UTF-8.

if [[ $LC_CTYPE =~ \.[Uu][Tt][Ff]-?8 ]]; then
  PS1=$'\\[\e[31m\\]\xe2\x88\xb4\\[\e[0m\\]\n\xe2\x86\x92 \xe2\x98\xbf \\~ \\[\e[31m\\]\xe2\x98\x85 $? \\[\e[0m\\]'

Since bash 4.2, you can use \u followed by 4 hexadecimal digits in a $'…' string.

  PS1=$'\\[\e[31m\\]\u2234\\[\e[0m\\]\n\u2192 \u263f \\~ \\[\e[31m\\]\u2605 $? \\[\e[0m\\]'
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Hmm. When I run echo ★ | hexdump -C1, I get: hexdump: invalid option -- '1'. Will it still work without the 1 in the invocation? – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Dec 2 '11 at 1:47
@TKKocheran That 1 was a typo, it's just hexdump -C (or hd for short on some systems). – Gilles Dec 2 '11 at 10:46
Thanks, just wanted to be sure. – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Dec 2 '11 at 20:08
Also, you could do : PS1=$'\u2234\u2192\u263f\u2605' feels easier to maintain :-) – mat Mar 20 '13 at 11:14
@mat Indeed, thanks (but only since bash 4.2). – Gilles Mar 20 '13 at 11:40

You can find the unicode symbols on lots of sites, like this one: http://panmental.de/symbols/info.htm

You just have to make sure that your term supports UTF-8.

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How would I escape one of these characters? Ie \u27A4 – Naftuli Tzvi Kay Dec 2 '11 at 0:01
See @Gilles answer, or this: stackoverflow.com/questions/602912/… – jasonwryan Dec 2 '11 at 0:45
You can see all 65000+ unicode points at utf8-chartable.de (In the context of code point values "utf8" is synonymous with "unicode".) – goldilocks Mar 20 '13 at 12:02

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