The Best Terminal Emulator for Mac OS X Download 2022
Best Terminal for Mac: Mac OS X includes a great terminal editor, but among the handful of alternatives is one that easily rises above them all. iTerm2 is our pick for the best terminal emulator for Mac OS X thanks to its vast number of time-saving features and high level of customizability.
What is Terminal app?
Terminal is a useful tool for executing commands on a Mac. However, many Mac users probably think that only people who have graduated from computer science can write something or use Terminal app. Considering that the overwhelming majority of users are doing their own things on the computer: play games, read books, surf the Internet, etc. and if someone knows a bit about the Terminal, then, most likely, bypasses it. However, knowing how to use it can facilitate your work with a computer. The built-in Terminal on your Mac can help you with a lot of things. However, if you need to have more powerful functionality than take a look at a decent Terminal emulator app. The basic requirements to it are the following: pleasant to the eye, had a wide functionality and stable performance.
Platform: Mac OS X Price: Free
Provides a fully-functional command line interface (CLI) for Mac OS X
Hot key activation, creating a drop-down “visor” terminal window on command
Split-pane view for dual terminal sessions
Search for text in any session
Mouse-less text selection and copying
Instant Replay allows you to go back in time to review previous activity in your terminal session
Full screen mode
Map any key to a function
Visual style is highly configurable
Mouse can be used to position the cursor, highlight text, and perform other functions
Tabs show up as separate windows in Éxpose/Mission Control
Create specific profiles for separate terminal sessions
Works in many different languages
Where It Excels
iTerm2 is a modern fork of the great but late iTerm. They are separate apps but operate on the same code base. iTerm2 is just a little more up-to-date. For the most part it’ll feel a lot like the Terminal app that comes with Mac OS X, but there are plenty of additional features that make it a better option. The flashiest of these features definitely has to be Instant Replay, which allows you to rewind your terminal session and see what you just did. Autocomplete is also extremely helpful.
It’s not only good at figuring out what command you might be typing, but it knows what directory you’re in and will fill in the names of files as well (if it detects you might be typing one, that is). But iTerm2 is particularly great because of the little things it does. Being able to select and copy text using your keyboard (as opposed to requiring the mouse), map functions to specific keys, and call up a drop-down “visor” terminal window with a hotkey are all little things that make iTerm2 the best of the bunch.
Where It Falls Short
There really isn’t much to complain about with iTerm2. Personally, I prefer that way the Mac OS X Terminal app handles its visual settings because they’re so easy to configure and save, but that’s a small gripe. Overall iTerm2 is a pleasure to use.
One obvious runner-up is the built-in Mac OS X Terminal app. On the whole it’s pretty great, offering pretty fast operation, plenty of visual customization options (with themes), a tabbed interface, window grouping, and a lot more. It’s definitely a strong option and almost the best.
One feature some feel is missing from the OS X Terminal app is what Visor (Free) provides, and that’s a drop-down terminal accessible via hot key. You just press the hot key and the Terminal will appear underneath your menubar, ready for commands. This is very useful for command line enthusiasts and heavy users.
Cathode ($10) may not be a terminal emulator you want to buy, but you definitely need to download it and try it. It emulates an old machine, complete with sound effects and the look of an old CRT monitor. It may not be the most practical option, but it’s definitely the coolest. Playing with it for a few minutes will definitely put a nostalgic smile on your face.
Terminator (Free) is just a simple terminal emulator. It’s has nice features like automatic logging, drag and drop paths, and a find function. It’s also pretty speedy. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not as strong of an option. It’ll get the job done but won’t offer you much beyond its simplicity.
8 Must-Know Terminal Commands For Every Mac User
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For those who have never used Terminal commands on Mac before, the app’s resemblance to hacking (as seen in movies) can be a little intimidating. But in fact, Terminal isn’t all that complicated once you know a little about how it works.
Many commands are surprisingly straightforward, such as how to open a file in Terminal and the dangerously powerful (since it bypasses the Trash) Terminal delete file capability:
The rm stands for remove, so use with caution!
For another example, let’s look at how to create a folder on Mac. Using Finder, this would simply be a case of right-clicking and choosing New Folder. When it comes to how to make a directory in Terminal, we’d need to use a specific command:
mkdir “new folder”
The Terminal window itself is designed to grant users access to UNIX features hidden away behind the Mac operating system. But you don’t need to learn about all of the technical stuff if you don’t want to. All you need to know is that a bit of Mac command line rote learning can help you do all sorts of cool things with your laptop or desktop that you couldn’t achieve otherwise.
8 Best Terminal Commands For Mac
Of course, defining the best Terminal commands for Mac really depends on what you want to get out of this tool. First things first though, to start you need to know how to open command prompt on Mac because you can’t use any Terminal commands without it:
Double-click your Macintosh HD icon or open a Finder window
Make your way into the Applications folder
Double-click Utilities and open Terminal
You’ll be met with a window that shows the name of your Mac followed by your username and a $ sign. All of the Mac Terminal commands listed here are entered after this, followed by a press or two of the Return key.
Actually using the app may be a bit tricky if you’ve never done so before, but at least the question of how to open Terminal on Mac is easy to answer. Pay attention going forward!
1. Show or hide files and folders
One of the easier, and most useful, commands to use in conjunction with Mac command line is the one that reveals hidden files and folders in macOS:
You can also change the default file format (PNG) if you want to generate screenshots as JPEGs or PDFs instead:
defaults write com.apple.screencapture type jpg
4. Improve the screenshot process
If you take a lot of screenshots on your Mac, you might have noticed that it automatically adds a drop shadow to screenshotted windows. If you’d prefer to turn these shadows off, you can do so with the following Mac commands:
To further customize how screenshots appear on your Mac, you could look at CleanShot. This app allows you to capture your Mac’s screen without the distraction of desktop icons, set custom wallpapers on the background, and annotate or blur certain parts of the image.
After taking a screenshot with CleanShot, a small popup window allows you to tweak the appearance of your capture — such as adding shapes, text, or pixelating parts of the image — before you share it anywhere using a layout similar to the simple and intuitive actions in Preview.
5. Download files without using your browser
The art of downloading files without using a web browser is familiar to any millennials who risked malware and viruses to download their favorite tracks from Limewire or Kazaa, but may be unheard of to others.
A nifty Mac command line trick exists for downloading files without using your web browser if you already know the location of the file. The command is as follows:
curl -O http://website.com/folder/file…
The first part is a crash course in how to change directory in Terminal, as that’s what the cd stands for. So by re-reading the example above, you can see that the file will appear in your Downloads folder when it’s finished downloading.
6. Keep your Mac awake
Overriding your Mac’s default sleep settings (available via System Preferences ➙ Energy Saver) is a breeze using one of Terminal’s more humorous Mac commands. Apparently, like so many people out there, Macs run on coffee:
caffeinate -u -t [number of seconds to remain active]
If you’d rather not launch Terminal every time you need to keep your Mac awake, there’s an app out there called Lungo that lives in your menu bar and builds on the coffee theme. Just select the cup icon in the top right corner of your screen and you can keep your Mac awake for 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, or indefinitely with a single click.
7. View the contents of any folder or file
If one of your files gets corrupted, or you suspect there’s a hidden message tucked away somewhere inside its package, you can use the Terminal window to see some details about it:
The command will throw out a bunch of indecipherable nonsense if you try to use it on something like an image or an audio file, but it could be a lifesaver when recovering text from a corrupted Word document, for example.
8. Hide inactive apps in Dock and dull hidden ones
Accruing more and more apps in your Dock is pretty much par for the course when you use a Mac for any significant length of time. So a good-to-know Terminal command here is the one that makes your Dock embrace a minimal approach by showing only active apps:
Another easier option for those with the cluttered Dock is to check out uBar, a simple and minimal replacement. Instead of a long line of icons, you can now have a highly customizable bar that allows you to devote more space to the apps that matter most.
You can use uBar to preview, group, quit, or close apps and windows, without the need to open them first, across multiple monitors. It’s an altogether less distracting option for those who find the default Dock a bit cluttered or unpredictable.
MacOS ships with a good terminal application as it is responsive and capable of handling virtually any command line task you throw at it. My issue with it, however, is that it isn’t so customizable or as cool-looking as many alternatives in the market.
Continuing my series of alternative applications for popular apps on different platforms, here is the list of the 10 best alternatives to the default terminal app on MacOS.