{ Michael Gale } | Web Developer - Melbourne, Victoria

Beginners Guide to iTerm 2


I’m on a QUEST for the perfect Terminal theme. I started using iTerm2 because I assumed it would be super easy to customise and make cool themes and stuff like that. I was kinda correct in that assumption, but soon discovered its many other awesome features beyond theming. You can find some great themes on http://ohmyz.sh that cover everything you probably need (and lots of other things I wouldn’t have been clever enough to think of).

This is a short overview of workflow ideas for iTerm, with a little bit of info on my own setup for flavour.

Show the Tool belt

I like to show the Tool belt (⇧⌘ + B, or go to Tool belt in the menu), where I can see my Profiles, Paste History and Notes.

Profiles is probably my most used feature of iTerm 2. More on this shortly.

Command-Click everything

I just discovered this recently and it is one of my favourite things I never noticed before.

Holding down and clicking any directory name (for example, when using the ls command) will open a new Finder window at that directory.

Likewise, holding down and clicking on any URL will launch the default browser at the corresponding location.

Find and Launch

⌘ + F to find a phrase, ⌘ + Click to launch in default application.

iTerm Search

Select text to copy (Double-Click works too!)

iTerm Copy

That’s right, you don’t have to ⌘ + C to copy stuff in iTerm. Handy.

Create custom profiles for Locally stored projects

I keep all my local projects in the Mac OS X ‘Sites’ folder. So, my first profile sets a custom working directory at: /Users/<username>/Sites/

I then set a Shortcut key to ⌥⌘S to quickly launch sessions from within this directory.

Also inside my /Sites/ folder is my most frequently visited project - my sandbox repo! so my second profile sets a custom working directory at: /Users/<username>/Sites/sandbox/

for External volumes

Finally, I have a profile dedicated to projects stored on external volumes. This one is set to: /Volumes/websites/

This one has a Shortcut key set to ⌥⌘W

Theming iTerm: track down the ‘Solarized Dark’ colour theme

This is the nicest way I’ve found to make all the standard colours of the terminal a bit easier to read. If I’m not using this, I’m using the standard Terminal colour palette ‘Pro’

Theming iTerm: Switch from ‘Bash’ to ‘Zsh’

iTerm Layout


I’ve played around with custom colours and syntax and attempted saving them to.bashsrc and it is not the most noob-friendly way to theme the terminal. In the end resorted to starting new projects and travelling up through my command history (by pressing up arrow) and re-entering my previous export PS1 command. Every time.

Then I discovered Oh My Zsh! and felt all that pain drip away as everything became very pretty, very fast.

Oh My Zsh! comes with hundreds of pretty themes, which you can browse at your leisure at http://zshthem.es/

I have been using the Cloud theme, like other cool people have used.

Anyway, go nuts with that!

⌘+Click to launch files with iTerm 2