A friend of mine was doing some spring cleaning on his shell and it prompted me to go on my own journey.

After running /usr/bin/time zsh -i -c exit I found out that my load time for zsh was over 4 seconds 🙀. This was apparently something that I had just gotten used to but seeing the numbers in the cold light of my terminal made me realize that something had to change.

After some frantic Googling, I found Benny C. Wong’s excellent post on speeding up oh my zsh which pointed at NVM and RVM as likely culprits. I quickly removed NVM from my .zshrc and saw startup times go to 0.14 seconds!

The only wrinkle was that I now needed to manually load nvm whenever I needed to use it, which was less than ideal for my JavaScript heavy workflow. That same friend had the idea of loading nvm when cd-ing into a directory and I took that idea and modified some existing chpwd zsh hooks to lazily load nvm and nvm use if I cd’ed into a directory with an .nvmrc:

# ~/.zshrc
function load-nvm () {
  if [[ $OSTYPE == "darwin"* ]]; then
    export NVM_DIR=~/.nvm
    [[ -s $(brew --prefix nvm)/nvm.sh ]] && source $(brew --prefix nvm)/nvm.sh
    [[ -s "$HOME/.nvm/nvm.sh" ]] && source "$HOME/.nvm/nvm.sh"

load-nvmrc() {
  if [[ -f .nvmrc && -r .nvmrc ]]; then
    if ! type nvm >/dev/null; then
    nvm use
add-zsh-hook chpwd load-nvmrc

Edit: I originally used command -v which doesn’t seem to recognize nvm properly, hit tip to Sean for switching to type

I now have a much snappier shell that loads nvm when I cd into a node project. 🎉