The zshcompsys man-page says:


If the system was installed completely, it should be enough to call the shell function compinit from your initialization file; see the next section. However, the function compinstall can be run by a user to configure various aspects of the completion system.

zsh can't find the commands though:

genesis% compinit
zsh: command not found: compinit
genesis% compinstall
zsh: command not found: compinstall
genesis% echo $PATH

I'm lead to ask this question because when starting zsh I get:

tmuxinator.zsh:20: command not found: compdef

How do I get zsh to find these completion commands?

3 Answers 3


This is the same issue I got on my mac. I am using zsh shell.

Zsh Compdef error

Compdef is basically a function used by zsh for load the auto-completions. The completion system needs to be activated. If you’re using something like oh-my-zsh then this is already taken care of, otherwise you’ll need to add the following to your ~/.zshrc

autoload -Uz compinit

Completion functions can be registered manually by using the compdef function directly like this compdef . But compinit need to be autoloaded in context before using compdef.

  • 2
    I tried this but got "compinit:503: no such file or directory: /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/_brew compinit:503: no such file or directory: /usr/local/share/zsh/site-functions/_brew_cask" Guessing that is because I don't use homebrew so this answer may be a problem for people like me.
    – Jackie
    Jan 4, 2021 at 20:34
  • This is what I needed on MacOS 12.6. Thanks!
    – jakub.g
    Nov 15, 2022 at 12:41
  • If you're using oh-my-zsh and still getting this, make sure to put your compdef after the source $ZSH/oh-my-zsh.sh line in ~/.zshrc.
    – David Lord
    Aug 10, 2023 at 1:40
  • what are the options U and z for?
    – Xel
    Sep 30, 2023 at 12:13

Answer to the question as asked

Access these commands by running:

$ autoload -Uz compinstall && compinstall

It will load a guided wizard, I quit as soon as I had the option to Save and exit.

Then reload the shell:

$ exec zsh

More general answer

It appears that the new user configuration was not run.

Run it by:

$ autoload -Uz zsh-newuser-install && zsh-newuser-install -f

I experienced the same issue.

For me I did the following:

  • Closed the current terminal
  • Ran the command brew doctor to fix any brew package concern
  • And finally ran the command rm -f ~/.zcompdump; compinit

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