Terminal vs iTerm2: Comparing Two CLI Tools on macOS

Command line interfaces (CLIs) are the backbone of a developer’s workflow, and on macOS, two prominent tools, Terminal and iTerm2, stand out. While both serve similar purposes, they come with distinct features that can significantly impact your coding experience.

Terminal vs iTerm2 – The Comparison Guide

1. Terminal: Basics and Functions

Overview of Terminal

Terminal is the default CLI tool available on macOS. Its strength lies in simplicity, providing a straightforward interface for executing commands, navigating directories, and managing files. For beginners, Terminal serves as a comfortable entry point into the world of command-line operations.

Strengths of Terminal

The accessibility and ease of use of Terminal make it a reliable tool for routine tasks. Its standard functionalities are well-suited for executing basic commands and managing simple projects.

2. iTerm2: Advanced Features and Customization

Introduction to iTerm2

iTerm2, an advanced terminal emulator, goes beyond the standard features of Terminal. Offering a wide range of customization options, this third-party tool elevates the command-line experience for macOS users.

Enhanced Functionalities

iTerm2’s standout feature is its support for multiple panes within a single window. This allows multitasking, enabling users to work on different projects or run various commands simultaneously without tab-switching hassles.

The customization options provided by iTerm2 are extensive. Users have the freedom to personalize their terminal environment, from appearance settings to specific behaviors.

Also Read – Mac Terminal Commands

3. Terminal vs iTerm2: Side-by-Side Comparison

Multiple Panes and Multitasking

While Terminal relies on tabs, iTerm2’s support for multiple panes in a single window offers a multitasking advantage. Developers working on various tasks simultaneously find iTerm2’s pane system more efficient.

Customizability and User Experience

Terminal’s simplicity comes at the cost of limited customization. In contrast, iTerm2’s extensive customization options provide users with a tailor-made experience, allowing them to configure settings according to their preferences.

Key Bindings and Additional Features

Setting up key bindings and additional features is more straightforward in iTerm2 than in Terminal. This ease of customization enhances productivity, especially for users who require specific shortcuts or functionalities.

4. Advantages and Use Cases

Advantages of Each Tool

  • For routine tasks and beginners, Terminal’s simplicity and straightforwardness make it an ideal choice.
  • Conversely, iTerm2 shines for users needing multitasking abilities, extensive customizability, and enhanced productivity features.

Also Read – Terminal Emulator For Mac


Both Terminal and iTerm2 have their merits, catering to different user preferences. Terminal offers a basic yet accessible environment, while iTerm2’s advanced functionalities and customization options elevate the CLI experience. Experimentation with both tools is recommended to find the best fit for one’s workflow.

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