I can enter a command:

$ echo hello

Then search for it with Ctrl+R:

(reverse-i-search)`h': echo hello

Then sometimes the search will fail:

(failed reverse-i-search)`hz': echo hello

Can I somehow color the "failed reverse-i-search" part of the display? I would prefer if it was red text to contrast with normal white text. That way I can quickly tell that a search has failed.


Based on current version of Bash (4.4), the message "failed reverse-i-search" is generated in the same place & in the same way as "reverse-i-search" making them indistinguishable for any feature that might change it's color.

Essentially to achieve exactly what you ask is necessary to modify the bash source code. (file ./lib/readline/isearch.c around line 180) http://git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/bash.git/tree/lib/readline/isearch.c

The alternative would be to enable "visual bell" for your terminal because when search fails, then there is a "Ding the bell" action done which can be an audio or visual event on your terminal. (see file ./lib/readline/isearch.c line 715)

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As czvtools noted, "failed reverse-i-search" fires a bell. You can create a visual bell instead of the regular one. Create a file "xterm-vb.terminfo":

xterm-vb|red visible bell,
# \e7                   save current cursor position
# \e[40A                up 40 lines
# \e[80C                move right 80 spaces
# \e[4D                 move left 4 spaces
# \e[5;30;41mERROR\e[m  bright background; foreground black; background red
# \e8                   restore cursor to position of last save_cursor

Compile and install the file:

tic xterm-vb.terminfo

Add line to "~/.profile" or similar:


Add line to "~/.inputrc":

set bell-style visible
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