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I would like to set iTerm2 instead of terminal.app as my default terminal.

Go2Shell for example let you open a terminal to the current directory in Finder. I want to ba able to use iterm2 instad of terminal.app.

I didn't find any answer on the official documentation.

Thanks for your help.

Update: ShellTo is a great alternative to Go2Shell and supports iTerm2

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Default terminal for what? You just launch the one you want and leave the other alone...? Please explain in more detail what you're asking. –  Daniel Beck Jan 17 '12 at 11:21
Go2Shell blurb from the app store: Added support of iTerm, iTerm 2 and even xterm :). Just take a look at its preferences. Also, at least for Terminal.app, this feature has been part of the OS for half a year, see here (last item). –  Daniel Beck Jan 17 '12 at 11:43
Oh I didn't saw it. My fault! –  politicus Jan 17 '12 at 12:08

3 Answers 3

up vote 23 down vote accepted

Terminal.app declares itself a handler of the ssh, telnet and x-man-page URL schemes.

It also registers the file extensions .term (sessions), .terminal (settings), .tool and .command (scripts), and itself as an editor/viewer for these.

Other than that, there is no default terminal in OS X. It's just an application that can handle URL schemes and file types.

iTerm is capable of handling all of these except the Terminal.app specific .term/.terminal.

For the file types, just open the Get Info dialog and associate all files of this kind with iTerm. For the URL schemes, you can download and install the preference pane Default Apps and change the association there. You can also use it as an alternative method of changing the file type associations.

enter image description here

All of these settings are user specific and stored in ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.LaunchServices.plist. You can of course edit it in a suitable editor yourself. It's pretty straightforward. Screenshot of Xcode 4 showing the result of changing x-man-page in Default Apps preference pane:

enter image description here

Terminal.app also provides the following Services for other applications:

  • New Terminal at Folder
  • New Terminal Tab at Folder
  • Open man page in Terminal
  • Search man pages in Terminal

The association with Terminal.app is hard-coded. You need to create your own Services e.g. using Automator and/or AppleScript to replace these.

If Terminal is used via its AppleScript API, there is no way to just replace it with iTerm in all cases, as their APIs are quite different. This will often require substantial changes to the programs or scripts doing that.

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Thank you for your amazing answer. Clear, very informative. New to OSX, I didn't know Default Apps. –  politicus Jan 17 '12 at 12:19

As mentioned in the comments above Go2Shell can be told to use iTerm2

To open configuration window follow this steps:

  1. Fire up your favorite terminal program.
  2. Enter: open -a Go2Shell --args config
  3. Press [return].

enter image description here


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You should be able to make iTerm.app your default terminal by selecting "Make Default" from the menu bar.

File menu drop down

Alternatively you can use a keyboard shortcut.


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Awesome. Thank for the tip! –  politicus Jan 29 at 11:31

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