Many Mac users spend their entire lives in the Terminal, but most of us only open it occasionally. However, using a mouse to open a text-based user interface feels strange. What if there was a way to always have the terminal close at hand, triggered by a single key combination?
You can easily set this up yourself thanks to iTerm, an alternative to the standard terminal that is customizable in many ways. This really is the best way to get your macOS terminal up.
One of my favorite features is the hotkey window that I’ll be using here to create the quick triggered full screen terminal of my dreams. This is what it looks like:
Upset? Let’s begin.
Step one: download and install iTerm
The first step is simple: go to the iTerm website and download the program. You can install the program by extracting it and dragging the icon onto Applications.
When you run iTerm you will find that it is not that different from your standard terminal.
However, there are a lot of hidden features in the settings that we will get to now.
Step 2: Activate the hotkey window
Click on “iTerm2” in the menu bar, select the “Settings” option and then go to the “Keys” section. At the bottom left you will see a button called “Create a Dedicated Hotkey Window”. Tap on it and a menu will appear.
Configure this according to your needs. I prefer the Option + Spacebar keyboard shortcut because it looks like Spotlight without overlapping, but you can use whatever you want. You can also set this window to open when you click the iTerm dock icon, but that’s up to you. Click OK when you’re done.
Use the keyboard shortcut you just signed and you’ll see the standard hotkey window that takes up half the screen.
If you like how it looks and works, congratulations: you can stop here. However, if you want to see the large terminal in full screen mode in my screenshots above, you still have a little more to do.
Step 3: change the look and feel
Go to the Profiles section in the Settings window and make sure the “Hotkey Window” profile is selected.
Next, go to the “Text” section in the right pane. If you want the terminal experience in full screen mode, I recommend changing the font to a slightly larger size, otherwise everything will be buried in a sea of black space. I chose 18pt Monaco, but I use any combination of fonts.
Next, go to Window and set the Style drop-down menu to Full Screen.
Also, adjust the transparency and blur settings until everything looks right. You could just as easily do without the transparency and use a black background. This is how mine became:
If a single terminal is not enough, you can split the screen vertically with Command + D (or horizontally with Command + Shift + D).
You can switch between windows using Command + Option and the arrow keys. This allows you to do several different things, all of which can be easily accessed with keyboard shortcuts. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.
If you’re not sure how to use this, don’t worry: you can use all sorts of cool commands that can help you, for example, listen to music or even update apps without opening the Mac App Store. Come to it!
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