Say you are in /very/cool/and/deeply/nested/folder . And you want to open a new terminal tab in the same folder.

How would you do that?

I use Mac OS and Zsh.

11 Answers 11


Use Oh-My-Zsh and add the 'osx' plugin in your ~/.zshrc like:


If you use OSX's Terminal App, you also need to add the terminalapp plugin too: credit

plugins=(osx terminalapp)

If you use iTerm you need to set a configuration option (Note that you may not need the zsh plugins for this to work): credit

Preferences > Profiles > Default > General > Working Directory > Reuse previous session's directory option

iTerm2 Preferences panel update to reuse previous session directory.

That's all you need to do!

  • 1
    does this also work in iTerm ?
    – ahmy
    May 30 '12 at 7:59
  • 1
    @ahmy looks like it should: github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/blob/master/plugins/osx/…
    – philfreo
    Jun 25 '12 at 17:52
  • 2
    This works for me unless I'm running a process in the console. If I have a process, say rails running, and I try to open a new window via command-n, I end up back at my home directory.
    – YWCA Hello
    Aug 20 '13 at 22:08
  • @YWCAHello have you found solution to this problem? Oct 7 '14 at 8:30
  • @Miszy I moved back to vanilla Bash :/
    – YWCA Hello
    Oct 7 '14 at 15:45

Another option now available in Mac OS X Lion is using the built-in feature. It uses 'escape sequences' to find out the current directory. For me it works if I use these commands in my .zshrc:

precmd () {print -Pn "\e]2; %~/ \a"}
preexec () {print -Pn "\e]2; %~/ \a"}

it is also possible to use PS1 (for Bash, from this wiki):

export PS1="\[\e]2;\u@\H \w\a\e[32;1m\]>\[\e[0m\] "

where \e]2; is the escape sequence to print things in the titlebar. It seems that Terminal.app is getting its information from there.

More information:

  • also, I think oh-my-zsh has this by default. I've been using this for a week or so now and it works pretty much out of the box.
    – Tim
    Aug 8 '11 at 7:18
  • As of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, Terminal will display the working directory using the “proxy” icon in the title bar, has options to create new terminals at the same directory, and supports Resuming terminals. As a convenience, Terminal will look at the contents of the window/tab titles to see if they contain a valid pathname. However, in /etc/bashrc you’ll see that it also supports a new escape code for informing Terminal of the working directory using a file: URL, which can handle all valid pathnames via percent-encoding (the window/tab titles can only contain a subset of ASCII characters).
    – Chris Page
    Mar 10 '12 at 22:04
  • 2
    The escape sequence for setting the working directory is the same basic code as for setting the titles—Operating System Command (OSC)—with code 7 instead of 0-2: \e]7;file://hostname/percent-encoded-pathname\a
    – Chris Page
    Mar 10 '12 at 22:29
  • 3
    Why use precmd and preexec? Why not just chpwd () {print -Pn "\e]2; %~/ \a"}?
    – Nick
    Apr 18 '12 at 15:53
  • 1
    I understand how this updates the titlebar, but I don't understand how this causes a new tab to open in the same directory as the previous tab.
    – mareoraft
    Dec 18 '15 at 23:41

This is a very simple version which I used in bash and also works in zsh. It saves the current folder in a file, after every command (Doesn't hurt too much IMO) and opens a new terminal in the saved current folder.

add the following to .zshrc

# emulate bash PROMPT_COMMAND (only for zsh)
precmd() { eval "$PROMPT_COMMAND" }
# open new terminal in same dir
PROMPT_COMMAND='pwd > "${HOME}/.cwd"'
[[ -f "${HOME}/.cwd" ]] && cd "$(< ${HOME}/.cwd)"
  • This is cool but requires you to actually execute a command in a tab to update. This can in rare cases cause unexpected behavior. Maybe there is a different function we can use that gets triggered when you switch tabs instead of run a command?
    – mareoraft
    Dec 18 '15 at 23:46

gdirs seems like a way to almost do it: new tab, then gdirs to select the deep directory and voila. My first idea was to make the directory stack shared among all tabs and do cd ~1 after the new tab, but I cannot find how to do that, as it seems each instance of zsh keeps its own. History sharing goes via a common file, so maybe that could be done here too...


This is how you do it in bash.

This shell script will tell (quiet literally, using Applescript) Terminal.app to open a new tab then switch to the current directory:

osascript -e 'tell application "Terminal"' \
-e 'tell application "System Events" to tell process "Terminal" to keystroke "t" using command down' \
-e "do script with command \"cd `pwd`;clear\" in selected tab of the front window" \
-e 'end tell' &> /dev/null

… put the above shell script in a directory in your $PATH (i.e. /usr/local/bin) and make sure it’s executable:

$ chmod +x /usr/local/bin/nt


  • Note that as of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, by default Terminal will start new tabs in the same working directory as the previous tab. So you only need to arrange to create the tab now. (If you’re using bash. If you’re using another shell, look at the code in /etc/bashrc for how to tell Terminal about the current working directory.)
    – Chris Page
    Mar 10 '12 at 22:22

If you need to open this new tab right now, without changing your config files or installing new plugins, run this:

pwd | pbcopy

Then open a new Terminal tab manually (with ⌘T), and in the new tab:

cd "`pbpaste`"

Warning: this will overwrite the contents of the system clipboard.

An alternative, longer method that does not overwrite the clipboard:

pwd > $TMPDIR/wd

Open your new tab.

cd "$(cat $TMPDIR/wd)"
rm -f $TMPDIR/wd

Per Pieter's comment above, once the plugins=(git osx) plugins are installed, you can just type tab and it will open a new tab in your current directory.


If you want the directory to change automatically when a new tab is opened use the dirpersist plugin.

The osx plugin only does save the last directory but you have to run the command tab to open a new tab, which is not always possible (if, say, you're running something in your current tab).


Adding terminalapp to .zshrc didn't work for me so I looked for the plugin ~/.oh-my-zsh/plugins/terminalapp and it tells me:

# This file is intentionally empty.
# The terminalapp plugin is deprecated and may be removed in a future release.
# Its functionality has been folded in to the core lib/termsupport.zsh, which
# is loaded for all users. You can remove terminalapp from your $plugins list
# once all your systems are updated to the current version of Oh My Zsh.

New tabs already open in the same folder (Cmd+T). For new windows (Cmd+N) the solution from Pieter is right:

Preferences > Profiles > Default > General > Working Directory > Reuse previous session's directory option


I don't have enough repu to comment on other's answers, just intend to comment about @tim 's answer, and answering @mareoraft 's question in a comment there:

I understand how this updates the titlebar, but I don't understand how this causes a new tab to open in the same directory as the previous tab. – mareoraft

Seems Terminal.app will infer working directory from what it is told, I'm not sure what things are like date back, but with Mojave, I just find that OSC 7 does the trick instead of OSC 2. OSC 7 is dedicated for pwd.

In my .zshrc under Mojave.

precmd () {
  print -Pn "\e]2;\a" # OSC - clear previous msg in title bar
  print -Pn "\e]7;%~\a" # OSC - send cwd for title bar, this also enables new tabs to reuse cwd

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