Let's get fuzzys

Fuzzy search is a great and easy way to find (back) stuff. You can use fzf on macOS and Linux to replace bash/zsh bck-i-search, make find obsolete and even get a quick way to preview files on the command line.

Installing on macOS

We can install fzfusing brew:

brew install fzf

Enable integration

After installation (and a reload of our shell with source ~/.zshrc) we can use fzfas is or we can integrate it with our shell.

To “install” fzf in the shell run:


Site note: When using oh-my-zsh you can enable fzf by adding it to you plug-in list. I had some bad experience with it so I’m doing it the manual way.

During install fzf will ask you if you want key-bindings. This will replace CRTL + r and CTRL + R for reverse search.

Cool tricks

When invoking fzf in any directory it will act like find . | fzf . fzf will build a cache with underlining files. As an example I created 10 directory’s with 10 files in them using:

$ mkdir fzf_dir_{1..10}
$ touch fzf_dir_{1..10}/file_{1..10}

When invoking fzfin this directory you can actively search all underlying folders and files:

Example of fzf search

Using Preview

fzf even has a build in preview function. You can use it with cat or (even beter) with bat:

  • With cat: fzf --preview 'cat {}'
  • With bat: fzf --preview 'bat --style=numbers --color=always --line-range :500 {}'

(tip: alias that last one to something like fbat or pfzf)

fzf with preview

Setting up a a fuzzy alias for history

fzf has the option to replace reverser search on your shell. I don’t like this because it changes the default behaivor of the zsh shell. Instead I created the following alias in my .zshrc shell:

## Manual alias for history search using fzf
alias ff="print -z -- \$(cat ~/.zsh_history | cut -d ';' -f2 | fzf --height 40% --border)"

A great thing about this alias is that it searches your history in a small window on the shell and returns the selected result to the shell (instead of running it). This gives you the option to review a command before running it:

ff fzf alias

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