I'm frequently logging into different servers from my os x terminal window.

I'd like to assign a color scheme for different hosts so that my terminal windows are easier to tell apart. Can this be done automatically?


Here's a complete solution. Keep a list of your servers ip addresses and/or domains and the colors you want for them in in ~/.server_colors:,Red Sands,Ocean

Then add this line to ~/.profile to hijack the ssh command:

alias ssh="~/bin/safe_ssh $1"

Then compare whatever's after the @ in your ssh target to your list. If there's a match, run an AppleScript to change the screen to the corresponding color. Here's ~/bin/safe_ssh:

ip=`echo $1 | cut -d"@" -f2`
match=`cat ~/.server_colors | grep $ip | wc -l`
if [ $match -gt 0 ]
    color=`cat ~/.server_colors | grep $ip | cut -f2 -d","`
    osascript ~/bin/change_terminal_color.scpt "$color" 2>/dev/null
/usr/bin/ssh $1

And last, here's ~/bin/change_terminal_color.scpt

on run argv
    tell application "Terminal" to set current settings of selected tab of window 1 to (first settings set whose name is (item 1 of argv))
end run

I took most of this code from this blog post.

  • 1
    Very nice. In the safe_ssh script, the $1 should be $@ to allow extra parameters to SSH to be passed through. Perhaps also a call after ssh to return the terminal back to the default. One last edit would make this pretty much perfect: support for SSH commands not containing '@'. – nOw2 Aug 31 '13 at 13:02


Either you use e.g. "screen" and customize it: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/comp/unix/package/epics/extensions/iocConsole/screen.1.html

Or you manage to do it on your SSH Client, if possible.

You could also try this: http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/bash-shell-change-the-color-of-my-shell-prompt-under-linux-or-unix/


The solution of @muirbot works really well for me. I made some little improvements to that. I'll add it below his post once I have enough reputation.

Replace the line

ip=echo $1 | cut -d"@" -f2
ip=echo $@ | grep -Eio [[:alnum:]_.-]+@[[:alnum:]_.-]+ | cut -d@ -f2

This change allows for giving additional arguments to your ssh command like "ssh -p 1111 userName@host"

The regular expression allows for simple ipv4 addresses and domain names.

To further support multiple arguments change the last line into

/usr/bin/ssh $@


I was just looking for the same thing and found this article:


It uses a php script to change the terminal colors by applescript. You can set up mappings of different colors for each server. Works great for me, though feel the urge to rewrite the php stuff into ruby :)



I use a script that launches SSH in xterm windows with different bg/fg colors. It selects the colors based on the hostname's hash from a color span so that no configuration is needed.

The script is written in Ruby: https://github.com/mickeyil/ssx


If you are using iTerm2, create a file named ~/bin/ssh-host-color.sh with the contents from https://gist.github.com/jbochi/31f118b8ae2882a2c90fa46c46509b57:

  local R=$1
  local G=$2
  local B=$3
  /usr/bin/osascript <<EOF
tell application "iTerm"
  tell the current window
    tell the current session
      set background color to {$(($R*65535/255)), $(($G*65535/255)), $(($B*65535/255))}
    end tell
  end tell
end tell

if [[ "$@" =~ "production.example.com" ]]; then
  set_term_bgcolor 40 0 0
elif [[ "$@" =~ "qa.example.com" ]]; then
  set_term_bgcolor 0 40 0

trap "set_term_bgcolor 0 0 0" EXIT

ssh $@

And add the following line to your ~/.aliases.sh file:

alias ssh="~/bin/ssh-host-color.sh $@"

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