I am using Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8 and emacs 23.3.1. In the Terminal I can mark text with the mouse, copy it with CMD-C and paste it with CMD-V. This is all I need and it works great, even within emacs. Which is important for me, since I'm still not very comfortable with it.

The only problem is, I have to use the mouse! How can I select the text with keyboard only? Is there really no solution?

It seems like someone else had a similar question, though the unsatisfying answers (for me) suggest otherwise.

  • You could use Emacs, as suggested in that answer, or screen or tmux, which both provide a layer between the terminal and the programs running within, and support keyboard commands for navigating/searching the terminal contents.
    – Chris Page
    Jul 4, 2012 at 3:21
  • @ChrisPage Stop it.
    – Daniel Beck
    Jul 5, 2012 at 5:38
  • @DanielBeck Could you elaborate?
    – Chris Page
    Jul 9, 2012 at 0:35
  • @ChrisPage My comment was referring to your deleted comment (moderators seem to agree) urging the user to ask this question on a different site.
    – Daniel Beck
    Jul 9, 2012 at 6:45
  • @DanielBeck Is there some way for me to see the deleted comment so I can figure out exactly what this is about? Also, is there a way to send messages to users—say, you—without using this question’s comments to do it?
    – Chris Page
    Jul 12, 2012 at 5:57

3 Answers 3


Short of using some fancy scripting you can't select text without the mouse. Alternatively you could use a terminal command like screen but then that isn't interacting with Mac clipboard.

  • Thank you for the answer ClarkGoble. I was afraid this would be the case. Isn't that something that thousands of OS X users want? Jul 5, 2012 at 7:05
  • Your best alternative is to use iTerm2 instead of Terminal. It does allow mouse less copy. link
    – ClarkGoble
    Jul 9, 2012 at 1:42
  • Thank you so much ClarkGlobe! iTerm2 seems to be very nice, and yes you can copy&paste text without the mouse, though only one line max and its a bit clumsy. Still better than nothing. Plus, I love full screen mode! Still, it bugles my mind, that this is even an issue ... Jul 11, 2012 at 7:20

Use iterm2 instead, it has a special Copy Mode that allows you to select text by keyboard. Press ++C to enter and Esc to exit that mode. Use Space or v to toggle selection

Copy Mode

iTerm2 Mouseless Copy


This is possible in the terminal. Firstly, go to the text you want to select, hold down the touch bar, and then use the finger to drag the text you want to select. Then, use COMMAND+C to copy the text that you want to use.

Hope this will help.

  • this doesn't work
    – ivan.ukr
    Dec 7, 2022 at 1:20

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