Why doesn't "exit" close a Terminal.app window on Mac OS X?

$ exit

[Process completed]

Is there a way to close the window without using the mouse?


7 Answers 7


A window displayed by Terminal.app is just the frontend for the process you choose to run inside of it - in your case, a Unix shell. When you exit the shell, the Terminal.app does not close the window by default, so you have the possibility to inspect the output from whatever command you ran, after it finishes.

You can change your preferences here

Terminal Preferences -> Settings -> Shell:

to either

  1. always close the window, whatever the exit status of the shell was
  2. close the window if the shell exited cleanly
  3. keep the window open (the default)

Besides that, you can (almost) always close windows in OSX with Cmd-W, so you don't need mouse even if it doesn't close automatically.

One more hint: I like hitting Ctrl-D instead of typing exit. Two keys vs. five.

  • 19
    In Yosemite it's: preferences -> profiles -> shell -> "when the shell exits"... Shell is whichever shell you have selected in General-> On startup open... Sep 22, 2015 at 17:21
  • Once the shell is exited, is it possible to start a new shell in the same window? If so, how?
    – Sodved
    Jul 9, 2016 at 2:14
  • @Sodved: I don't think it is, but could be wrong.
    – Amadan
    Jul 11, 2016 at 5:34
  • This does not answer the question that was asked, as it does not propose a command line operation. Jan 4, 2017 at 17:59
  • @ChrisStratton You're correct that it does not directly answer the question asked, but it does facilitate the use of the exit command which the OP was using originally. Dec 22, 2018 at 3:57

Command + Q -> closes the application/process.

Command + W -> closes window/instance


Actually, for this requirement, you should set some config to your Terminal. follow below instructions and you will close your Terminal just with an exit command.

When the Terminal is up, press +, to open the prefrences window. then you will see below screen:

enter image description here

Then press shell tab and you will see below screen:

enter image description here

Now select Close if the shell exited cleanly for When the shell exits.

Your Terminal is ready for the exit just with an exit command.

  • 2
    Thanks for posting an updated answer that works in MacOS Catalina. (As of v.10.15.6). Sep 8, 2020 at 16:56
  • You're welcome dude, @BrianSwift
    – AmerllicA
    Sep 8, 2020 at 18:04
  • Thanks for the images, so much easily to follow then words.
    – Mint
    Jul 6, 2023 at 2:23
  • @Mint, you're welcome 🤗
    – AmerllicA
    Jul 9, 2023 at 8:23

Yes there is. For example you can use AppleScript to achieve it:

osascript -e 'tell application "Terminal" to close first window'

The first window is always the currently active window. That's the one you want to close.

Before closing the window, the Terminal may ask you, if you really want to close the window. This depends on your settings. You may have chosen to 'close the window only if the shell exited cleanly or no other processes are running apart from …'. (This may be the default setting.) In that case adding & exit to the command closes the window immediately and without asking.

osascript -e 'tell application "Terminal" to close first window' & exit
  • 2
    This is almost right, but in actuality the "first window" is not always the one running the command. Jan 4, 2017 at 18:41
  • This technique works well after open is called to add a new Terminal profile.
    – vhs
    Oct 16, 2019 at 9:25

If you want to terminate the application itself from the commandline:

killall Terminal
  • 7
    that is considered harmful. Apart from the fact tha killall does different things on different Unix versions, it's not nice to kill an application instead of asking it to just quit. Nov 15, 2012 at 13:55
  • very good solution. We just need to exit terminal so there is no asking!! best answer.
    – Sabrina
    Sep 19, 2019 at 19:33

I also suggest against the killall suggestion. As suggested modify the settings in your preferences to close window if shell exit was successful. If you're REALLY LAZY (like me), open up your bash profile and add an alias. I have mine set so all I have to do is type 'q'.


I needed a variant of this solution for an application that required the user to enter their password in terminal for a sudo script. Catalina's security makes sending keystrokes a real pain, so hopefully this solution helps someone else in the future:

tell application "Terminal"
    do script "sudo say --rate=140 Intergalactic && kill -9 $$"
    delay 5
            do shell script "ps a | grep -v grep | grep 'sudo say --rate=140 Intergalactic'"
            delay 0.5
        on error
            exit repeat
        end try
    end repeat
    close front window
end tell

Here is an explanation for some of the weird looking stuff:

  • kill -9 $$: This is basically exit that works; for some reason exit wasn't working for me for my application. You want to kill the shell process so that the user doesn't get prompted to terminal a running terminal... This will allow it to silently close.
  • try...do shell script: This checks to see if the command is still running, and if so, the loop keeps going so that window doesn't get killed. If grep finds a match, it returns an error code 0 (AppleScript is happy); if grep doesn't find a match, it returns an error code 1 and then your script stops running when the party is just about the begin.
  • close front window: Yes, I realize #closefrontwindowisconsideredharmful. There is a 500ms gap where either another terminal window could come into focus, or the user could Command+Tab to another Terminal window or something... I figure if you are interacting with the window, it's probably an edge case. Feel free to come up with a better way and let us know!

I'll probably be occasionally maintaining this thing here: https://gist.github.com/andrewodri/e0440c52f7c0a7333c35ab6443581efe

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