Looking for a way automatically change terminal colors when ssh-ing into remote machine and revert back to the default colors, when exiting the ssh session. Simply, want have another colors when i'm working on the remote machine.

Any idea?

ps: don't want use iTerm2, but standard Terminal.app

2 Answers 2


I'm using the following.

Have a shell command, called myssh, with content:

DEF="Basic" #the default profile name
echo "tell app \"Terminal\" to set current settings of first window to settings set \"${PROFILE}\""|osascript
ssh $@
echo "tell app \"Terminal\" to set current settings of first window to settings set \"${DEF}\""|osascript

and use bash aliases for the connect, like:

alias ssweb='myssh Homebrew [email protected]'
alias ssmail='myssh Ocean [email protected]'

When I want to ssh into the web server, I simply write ssweb in the Terminal and I got the "Homebrew" profile. When the ssh session ends, the AppleScript sets back to the "Basic".

The aliases should go into your $HOME/.profile or similar bash-startup file.

The "Homebrew", "Ocean" etc. are the setting profiles from the Terminal.app preferences. You can also set up different fonts, encodings, etc.

Of course, you can use it directly (without aliases) like:

myssh Pro [email protected]
       ^        ^
       |        ssh command arguments
       terminal profile name
  • how would you do this for iterm2 ? thanks!
    – Cosu
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 12:33
  • I stopped using iTerm when in "vim" after selecting some text it is cut out the selection instead of copy.. ;( So, Unfortunately, I haven't any idea about iTerm2 solution.
    – clt60
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 19:00
  • Thank you! I've been looking at various kludgy ways to do this for a while, but your method is simple and flexible. Bonus points for developing a tiny framework that can take profiles and commands from different aliases, rather than strewing around a bunch of individual scripts with hard-coded preference sets.
    – octern
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 4:48

I know there's already a couple of answers, but here's an alternative:

There's no general way to change the background color, but we can use a standard way to change the window title. If you're logging in to a lot of non-"Unix server" devices (such as network devices; routers, switches, firewalls etc) then you have to use their shells and cannot install your own shell variables. So, here's another way:

function ssh() {
  echo -ne '\033[22;0t' # save title
  H=$(echo $@ | sed -e 's/.*@//g;s/ .*//g')
  echo $@ | grep '@' && U=$(echo $@ | sed -e 's/@.*//g;s/.* //g')
  echo -ne "\033]0;${U:=$(whoami)}@${H%%.*}\007"
  unset H
  unset U
  /usr/bin/ssh $@
  echo -ne '\033[23;0t' # restore title

Add this to your .bashrc.

Basically, as functions and aliases are preferred to looking in the path, this takes the ssh command and uses the text before and after the "@" to set HOST and USER variables which it then uses to echo an ASCII code which is recognised by the terminal and used to set the title.

You must use "ssh [email protected]" for this and not "ssh -l user host.blah"

If you don't provide a username it will set it as your current username (obviously if you're using a custom .ssh/config (which I use a lot) then this won't be accurate, but I think it's good enough to be useful.

  • Works very well with iterm2 and zsh thank you. I added save/restore commands blocks
    – Amaury D
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 10:09

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