iTerm vs Terminal

As a developer, I use command line tools all the time. In fact, at any given time during the workday, I have three tabs with different terminals open.

Given that I use them so heavily, it’s important that I use the best application for the job. On the Mac, that’s usually either Terminal, included with Mac OS X, or the open-source iTerm. They are relatively similar in their current iterations: both support tabs, are relatively customizable, and have a bookmarking system. So when it comes down to it, there is one small difference that makes a world of difference to this efficiency-infected nerd: word boundary definition for double-clicking behavior. Allow me to demonstrate the difference between the two terminal emulators when double-clicking a file path.



That’s about it. When double-clicking a path, Terminal selects the “word” (usually letters), while iTerm selects the whole path (with a few exceptions – it has trouble when it encounters paths with spaces or other special characters). Additionally, iTerm (if enabled via preferences) copies text upon selection.

In practical use, this gives the user the ability to double-click anywhere in a path that he encounters while editing files, perusing logs, or working with other commands such as “locate” or “svn status”. He can then immediately act on that path as needed in a new command.