How do I set an environment variable in zsh?

Answered by Robert Flynn

To set an environment variable in zsh, you can follow these steps:

1. Open your terminal and navigate to your home directory by running the command `cd ~`.

2. Open the `.zshrc` file, which is the configuration file for zsh, using a text editor of your choice. For example, you can use the `nano` editor by running the command `nano ~/.zshrc`.

3. In the `.zshrc` file, you can add the line `export YOUR_VAR=your_value`, where `YOUR_VAR` is the name of the variable you want to set and `your_value` is the value you want to assign to it. For example, if you want to set a variable called `MY_VAR` with a value of `hello`, you would add the line `export MY_VAR=hello`.

4. Save the changes you made to the `.zshrc` file. In the `nano` editor, you can do this by pressing `Ctrl + X`, then `Y`, and finally `Enter` to confirm the file name.

5. To apply the changes and make the new environment variable available, you can either reload the `.zshrc` file by running the command `source ~/.zshrc`, or you can simply reopen your terminal.

Once you have set the environment variable, you can access its value in your zsh shell or in any scripts that you run. For example, you can use the `echo` command to print the value of the variable by running `echo $YOUR_VAR`.

It’s worth mentioning that environment variables are useful for storing information that can be accessed by various programs and scripts. They can be used to customize the behavior of programs, define paths to executable files or libraries, or store any other type of data that needs to be shared across different processes.

In my personal experience, I have used environment variables in zsh for various purposes. For instance, I have set the `PATH` variable to include additional directories where I keep my custom scripts, so that I can easily run them from anywhere in the terminal. I have also used environment variables to store API keys or other sensitive information that should not be hard-coded in scripts.

Setting environment variables in zsh is a straightforward process that can greatly enhance your productivity and customization options in the terminal.