I use ubuntu 11.04.

Is there a way to set coloring for output after tab completion listing of a cd, ls, or etc. ?


myshell@root$ cd ~/user/files/ I hit tab...

myfile myfoo mybar <-- this output is colored?

I hope you enjoyed my diagram.

  • What exactly should be colored? Do you want files to be colored the same as ls --color would do? Do you want the first one to be colored, then when you press Tab again, the second one to be colored, etc? Something else? – Mikel Apr 17 '12 at 4:18

With readline 6.3 and later you can add

set colored-stats on

to ~/.inputrc.

See https://tiswww.case.edu/php/chet/readline/rluserman.html:


If set to `on', Readline displays possible completions using different colors to indicate their file type. The color definitions are taken from the value of the LS_COLORS environment variable. The default is `off'.

You can use http://geoff.greer.fm/lscolors/ to generate both LS_COLORS (which is used by GNU ls and colored-stats) and LSCOLORS‏ (which is used by BSD ls).

  • Also see the option visible-stats. – xuhdev Apr 30 '16 at 9:10
  • 2
    you may have to $if Bash\nset colored-stats on\n$endif to avoid bugs with other programs that don't understand the new readline functions. – unhammer Jun 3 '17 at 9:27
  • Not working for me on MacOS Mojave 10.14.4. My bash --version is GNU bash, version 4.4.23(1)-release (x86_64-apple-darwin17.5.0) – Andy Carlson Mar 28 at 4:01
  • Works for me. I use github.com/seebi/dircolors-solarized/blob/master/… and just commented out SOCK 35;44 to work better with my light themed terminal. – Stephen Niedzielski Apr 21 at 2:56

I don't know if it is in bash (the default shell). It is possible in zsh (a more powerful shell than bash, available on most unices including Ubuntu but often not installed by default).

The first time you run zsh, it will offer to create a configuration file (~/.zshrc) for you. The default configuration is a bit barren, for historical compatibility. For colored completion listings, select 2 to configure the “new completion system”, then 2 again to tune it; in the compinstall menu, select 3 to set styles for displaying completions and 3 then 1 to enable colored completions and finally 2 to use the same colors as ls.

If you prefer setting this up by hand, here are the lines you need in your .zshrc:

zstyle ':completion:*' list-colors "${(@s.:.)LS_COLORS}"
autoload -Uz compinit

The list-colors style tunes colors on file name completions.

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