I wish to display a cowsay message in every terminal window. The command I use is

 fortune | cowsay

Any ideas how to make it appear whenever I start a new terminal session?

6 Answers 6

  • Open the file ~/.bashrc (or /etc/bash.bashrc if it should work globally for all users).

  • Add the following at the bottom of the file:

    if [ -x /usr/games/cowsay -a -x /usr/games/fortune ]; then
        fortune | cowsay
  • 1
    does the -x flag mean "if exists" ? Dec 6, 2010 at 16:58
  • 3
    Yes, "-x" tests if that file exists and is executable. For more information on the the test program see its man page: man test ([ ... ] is short for test ...).
    – htorque
    Dec 6, 2010 at 17:03
  • 1
    Works for bash on Windows 10 also!
    – LShaver
    Aug 14, 2016 at 21:10
  • added clear and then the above command to the end .profile file as that is what is called on logins. Dec 17, 2020 at 7:06

BONUS: If you're using bash you can make a ~/.bash_logout file and it will execute that when you log out. Make sure to have it sleep for a second or so, or you'll never see it.

cowsay "See you later"; sleep 1

  • wow, thats neat! Ill do it immediately! Jan 24, 2011 at 7:54

I would consider setting a limit to the size of the fortune command requested.

fortune -s | cowsay

This will produce at most 160 characters. This is a good size for a greeting, anything more than that and long fortunes will flood your terminal.


I use

fortune | cowsay -f `ls -1 /usr/share/cowsay/cows/ | sort -R | head -1` -n

This will display a random fortune using a random 'cow'. There's probably a better way to get a random 'cow', but this works for me just fine.

  • 1
    For Mac: fortune | cowsay -f `ls -1 /usr/local/Cellar/cowsay/3.04/share/cows/*.cow | sort | head -1` -n
    – jibran
    Oct 17, 2016 at 7:08
  • Whoa I knew mac was Unix-based, didn't realize it even had cowsay and stuff!! Jun 5, 2018 at 7:22

Better you use .bash_profile because .bashrc is also executed at commands like scp and they will fail silently if there is any output

I found a nice script on pastebin. currently using it.



I am using

cowsay Welcome to Bash Shell in .bashrc.

This will be prompt every time when you open the terminal.

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