Exploring Antigen for Zsh: A User’s Guide

Zsh is a powerful and customizable shell that is built on top of Bash with additional features. One of the major strengths of Zsh is the ability to use plugins and themes to enhance the functionality and visual appeal.

Depending on the tasks at hand, it can be difficult to install, manage, and update all the plugins that you require for your Zsh setup. This is where Antigen comes into play.

Antigen is a free and open-source plugin manager for Zsh. It simplifies the process of installing, managing, and updating all the Zsh extensions in a single command.

In this tutorial, we will explore about Antigen and how to integrate and use it with your Zsh setup. This will teach you how to install it, its supported commands, and more.


Before we can use Antigen, we need to have Zsh installed on the target system. By default, Zsh is pretty much installed on most Unix systems including macOS.

However, if you do not have it installed, you can use your default package manager to install it.

For example, you can use “apt” if you are on Debian-based systems:

$ sudo apt-get install zsh


Use the following command on Red Hat-based systems:

$ sudo yum install zsh


You can use Homebrew on macOS:

$ brew install zsh


Installing Antigen

Once you have Zsh installed, we can proceed to install Antigen. Luckily, we can quickly and easily setup Antigen by running the following command:

$ curl -L git.io/antigen > antigen.zsh


The given command should download the Antigen script and save it as “antigen.zsh” in the current directory.

Configuring Antigen

To configure Antigen, edit your “~/.zshrc” file. Add the following entry in your “.zshrc” file to configure Antigen:

source /path/to/antigen.zsh
antigen init ~/.zshrc


This allows you to use Antigen in your Zsh shell.

Installing Plugins

Antigen makes it easy to install the Zsh plugins. We can install a plugin using the “antigen bundle” command.

For example, to install the plugins provided by Oh My Zsh, we can add the following entry in the “.zshrc” file:

antigen bundle git
antigen bundle heroku
antigen bundle pip
antigen bundle lein
antigen bundle command-not-found


The given commands install the specified plugins such as git, Heroku, pip, lein, command-n0t-found, and more as provided by the “oh-my-zsh” plugin.

Loading the Library

We can use the “antigen use” command to load a given library. For example, use the following command to load the oh-my-zsh’s library:

antigen use oh-my-zsh


Loading the Theme

To install and load a theme, we can use the “antigen theme” command as shown in the following:

$ antigen theme robbyrussell


Profiling the Antigen

If you experience a slow startup time or performance issues with Zsh, you can profile Antigen to identify the bottlenecks.

Antigen provides a built-in profiling feature that you can enable by running the following command:

$ antigen profile on


This generates a profile report in the “~/.antigen/profile” directory.


In this guide, we explored about Antigen for Zsh including how to install Antigen, understanding the loading libraries, installing plugins, installing themes, and more.

About the author

John Otieno

My name is John and am a fellow geek like you. I am passionate about all things computers from Hardware, Operating systems to Programming. My dream is to share my knowledge with the world and help out fellow geeks. Follow my content by subscribing to LinuxHint mailing list