Get back the old welcome message

If you’ve used Terminal in OS X somewhat regularly, you’re probably well acquainted with the “Welcome to Darwin!” message that appears when you open a new Terminal window, or connect to your machine via ssh. Or should I say appeared, as the message has vanished as of 10.5—new Terminal windows simply tell you the date and time of your last login.

If you miss the old message, here’s how to get it back—and your message can say anything you’d like it to, not just “Welcome to Darwin!” Open Terminal, type cd /etc and press Return. We’re going to create a special file here named motd (which is short for message of the day, though that’s a misnomer as the message won’t change each day); this is the file that holds the welcome message. To create the file, type sudo nano motd, press Return, and enter your admin password when asked. (The sudo bit runs the text editor nano with root privileges, which is necessary to edit files in the /etc directory.)

After providing your password, you’ll be looking at the nano text editor’s interface. Usage is pretty simple—just type the message that you’d like displayed when you open a Terminal window. For instance, here’s what my editing window looked like just after typing my new message:

After you’ve come up with the witty words you’d like to use for your message, press Control-O to save the file—nano will prompt you for the filename; just press Return to accept the current value, which is motd. Finally, press Control-X to exit nano. Press Command-N to open a new Terminal window, and revel in the return of the welcome message.

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