I know how to change the background color in Terminal in Mac OS X by using the Preferences window. I would like to be able to use an image as my Terminal background instead, but I don't see an option to set an image as the background.

Is it possible to set an image as my Terminal background? If so, how would I do this? I am using Mac OS 10.5.8.


In Tiger you could select background images in Preferences, but that went away in Leopard. The .terminal files can be exported and imported as a xml property list. The plist "key" node value for the background image is BackgroundImagePath followed by a "data" node that contains a base64 encoded binary property list that has a "string" node pointing to an image file.

...base64 encoded binary plist here....

You can use openssl to decode the data content.

openssl enc -d -base64 

Then convert the binary plist to xml using plutil.

plutil -convert xml1

You will see something like this...

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">

Change the image path and convert the xml plist back to binary and base64 encode it.

plutil -convert binary1
openssl enc -base64

Then set the value of the "data" node to the base64 string.


iTerm supports background images.


If you don't have a pre-existing .term file you can do this as follows:

  1. create a Terminal settings with everything else the way you would like it -- fonts, colors, opacity, etc.

  2. using a text editor create a file named "new.term" containing the following:

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> <plist version="1.0"> <dict> <key>WindowSettings</key> <array> <dict> <key>BackgroundImagePath</key> <string>/path/to/your/picture.png</string> </dict> </array> </dict> </plist>

  3. run that new.term file in Terminal, quit Terminal, then run Property List Editor.app and open ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.Terminal.plist

  4. drill down root -> window settings -> new, and right-click->cut the line that says "BackgroundImagePath", and then in root -> window settings find the Terminal setting name you created in the first step, open it up and right-click-> paste the line into there.


As of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, Terminal provides explicit support for background images in Preferences:

Terminal > Preferences > Settings > [profile] > Window > Background > Image

You can even select a folder of images and it will randomly select one each time you create a new terminal with that settings profile. e.g., see the built-in default “Solid Colors”, which uses a folder containing images of…you guessed it…solid colors.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.