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Working Effectively With iTerm2

I have been using iTerm in daily work for almost a year now. Along the way, I learned a few handy settings tweaks and shortcut keys to boost my productivity in command-line environment.

Install iTerm2

If you haven’t heard of iTerm, it’s a popular open source alternative to Mac OS X Terminal. Give it a try, download and install it from http://www.iterm2.com.

Fine-Tune Settings

Launch iTerm, open iTerm > Preferences or just Cmd + ,.

Open tab/pane with current working directory

Under Profiles tab, go to General subtab, set Working Directory to “Reuse previous session’s directory”.

Enable Meta key

To enable Meta key for Bash readline editing e.g. Alt + b to move to previous word, under Profiles tab, go to Keys subtab, set Left option key acts as: to “+Esc”.

Hotkey to toggle iTerm2

Under Keys tab, in Hotkey section, enable “Show/hide iTerm2 with a system-wide hotkey” and input your hotkey combination, e.g. I use Ctrl + Shift + L.

Switch pane with mouse cursor

Under Pointer, in Miscellaneous Settings section, enable “Focus follows mouse”.

Handy Shortcut Keys

Here’s a set of shortcut keys I commonly use. You can always look for other shortcut keys in the iTerm menu.

Tab navigation

  • open new tab Cmd + t
  • next tab Cmd + Shift + ]
  • previous tab Cmd + Shift + [

Pane navigation

  • split pane left-right Cmd + d
  • split pane top-bottom Cmd + Shift + d
  • next pane Cmd + ]
  • previous pane Cmd + [


  • open search bar Cmd + f
  • find next Cmd + g

Input to all panes

  • input to all panes in current tab Cmd + Alt + i

Clear screen

  • clear buffer Cmd + k
  • clear lines (Bash command) Ctrl + l

Zooming / Font Resize

  • toggle maximize window Cmd + Alt + =
  • toggle full screen Cmd + Enter
  • make font larger Cmd + +
  • make font smaller Cmd + -

iTerm lovers, did I miss anything out?