Trying iTerm2

In 2007 I posted an article about iTerm, an open source terminal application for Mac OS X. At that time, I gave up on iTerm and switched back to the Apple-supplied For a while, it seemed as if iTerm was stagnating and development had stalled.

However, I recently learned that some developers forked the original iTerm to create iTerm2. Like the original iTerm, iTerm2 supports AppleScript and tabbed terminals. The tabbed terminals I don’t really care about (I don’t use tabs, generally speaking), but I do like AppleScript support (in case you hadn’t picked that up already). There are also some other interesting features: split panes, a Visor-like window accessible via hotkey, and Growl support.

So I installed the latest build of iTerm2, and so far it’s been very stable. My only complaint has been that you can’t configure iTerm2 to spawn new windows instead of new tabs by default. Key point: I started using the Remote Hosts plug-in for Quicksilver (great plug-in, by the way). Once I reconfigured iTerm2 as the handler for ssh:// URIs, the plug-in stopped spawning windows and starting spawning iTerm2 tabs instead. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out how to tell it to spawn a new iTerm2 window instead. (Feel free to chime in with ideas.)

I also whipped up a quick AppleScript that I can invoke with FastScripts; the purpose of this script is to open a new iTerm2 terminal window at the same directory as the frontmost Finder window.

I’m going to continue to work with iTerm2 as my primary terminal application for a while to see how it works. If anyone has any tips or tricks to share, please add them in the comments below. Thanks!

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  1. Heinz Bastian’s avatar

    Take a look a SecureCRT from Vandyke now also available for Mac and by far the best terminal emulation I have ever used. They also offer very good scripting support and the developer support via support forums is also very very good.
    Give it a try!

  2. Niels’s avatar

    iTerm2 is great; I switch about 3 weeks ago after reading positive comments and so far I am discovering new things almost every day.

    Good luck in this change; I am sure you’ll love it more the more you use it!

  3. white label online backup’s avatar

    I’ve been using iTerm2 for some time as well – it’s been great in terms of keeping a lot of sessions open (I do use the tabs myself!), and the customization of the keys like the END keys is easy and solid (this kills me on a MAC, as the END key doesn’t do the same thing when in a ssh linux session as in the regular sessions, and I end up having to hunt for my cursor).

    On your question on opening new windows, you may already have a script like this:
    tell application “iTerm”
    — Create a new terminal window…
    set myterm to (make new terminal)
    — … and go on within this one.
    tell myterm
    — Launch new session/Bookmark.
    launch session “YOUR BOOKMARK NAME”
    end tell
    end tell

    But there is no option in iTerm2 to open a new window rather than a new tab – - that is an active feature request.

    You may be able to get a new window by holding down the OPTION button at a strategic time (when it’s about to launch but this seems pretty tricky.

    So maybe for now you should configure a *script* to handle ssh:// and pass then code the script to launch a new iTerm2 window per the above, then you’ll be square. More info here on that:

  4. Rob McBroom’s avatar

    Interesting timing. I was trying iTerm2 myself (because everyone keeps asking for an updated Quicksilver plug-in and saying how wonderful it is) and I ran into the same annoyance with new sessions opening in a tab. Most of the time, I end up moving new Terminal windows anyway, so dragging the tab out then moving isn’t that much harder than simply moving. Where it’s really unacceptable is when I’m in a different space because then I get yanked back to a space with an iTerm window open.

  5. Rob McBroom’s avatar

    Oh, and the whole point of that was to say that I ran across this post while Google-ing for a way to get new sessions in a new window. :)

  6. slowe’s avatar


    So should I take that to mean you’re going to write a new iTerm2 plug-in for Quicksilver? (hint, hint)

    If I figure out a way to force new sessions into a new window, I’ll be sure to post something here.


  7. Cesare G. Rossi’s avatar


    I’m a newbie of iTerm2: is there any way to setup a profile to SSH to a server without manually writting the password?

    I’m using ZOC, and that is a easy task to do: what about the same function for iterm2?

  8. slowe’s avatar

    Cesare, I don’t know of a way to setup a profile to automate the login to an SSH server. I’d suggest setting up public key authentication for passwordless SSH logins, instead of trying some sort of hack in an iTerm2 profile. My 2 cents…

  9. mike cullerton’s avatar

    I just figured out the issue opening ssh links, and posted it to

    In Preferences, under the Profiles tab, change “Command” to Login shell.

    Hope it works for you, it’s been driving me crazy!

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