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Last active November 24, 2023 10:49
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Makes Zsh print a bell when long-running commands finish. I use this in combination with i3 and throw big compile jobs (or whatever it may be) into another workspace to get a nice visual notification (workspace indicator turns red) when it's done so I don't need to waste time regularly checking on it.
#!/usr/bin/env zsh
# This script prints a bell character when a command finishes
# if it has been running for longer than $zbell_duration seconds.
# If there are programs that you know run long that you don't
# want to bell after, then add them to $zbell_ignore.
# This script uses only zsh builtins so its fast, there's no needless
# forking, and its only dependency is zsh and its standard modules
# Written by Jean-Philippe Ouellet <>
# Made available under the ISC license.
# only do this if we're in an interactive shell
[[ -o interactive ]] || return
# get $EPOCHSECONDS. builtins are faster than date(1)
zmodload zsh/datetime || return
# make sure we can register hooks
autoload -Uz add-zsh-hook || return
# initialize zbell_duration if not set
(( ${+zbell_duration} )) || zbell_duration=15
# initialize zbell_ignore if not set
(( ${+zbell_ignore} )) || zbell_ignore=($EDITOR $PAGER)
# initialize it because otherwise we compare a date and an empty string
# the first time we see the prompt. it's fine to have lastcmd empty on the
# initial run because it evaluates to an empty string, and splitting an
# empty string just results in an empty array.
# right before we begin to execute something, store the time it started at
zbell_begin() {
# when it finishes, if it's been running longer than $zbell_duration,
# and we dont have an ignored command in the line, then print a bell.
zbell_end() {
ran_long=$(( $EPOCHSECONDS - $zbell_timestamp >= $zbell_duration ))
for cmd in ${(s:;:)zbell_lastcmd//|/;}; do
if (( ${zbell_ignore[(i)$util]} <= ${#zbell_ignore} )); then
if (( ! $has_ignored_cmd )) && (( ran_long )); then
print -n "\a"
# register the functions as hooks
add-zsh-hook preexec zbell_begin
add-zsh-hook precmd zbell_end
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This has been incorporated into Joerg Jaspert's nice collection of ZSH config.

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teto commented Mar 24, 2018

Thanks for the gist. Would it be possible for the "zbell_ignore" check to expand aliases ? I have alias v=$EDITOR (for neovim) and even though $EDITOR is by default in zbell_ignore, it isn't matched when I run $ v todo.txt.

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This has been made into a repo:
@teto maybe ask there?

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