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I prefer iTerm2 for its features, but Terminal.app outperforms it in terms of responsiveness. I mostly notice this in Vim: iTerm gets choppy during scrolling and/or rapid cursor movement.

Is there anything I can do to improve iTerm's performance, or must I simply take the good with the bad? Would it be any better if I switched from bash to zsh, or is rendering speed totally unrelated to which shell I'm running?

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Here's something you can do, according to their FAQ:

Make sure you are running the latest version. Disable transparency and blur. Use a solid background color rather than an image.

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Other than transparency and blur which are known, and probably not used by any serious users ;) .... your should check how many triggers your have (regexps).

Get some stats on performance here: https://gitlab.com/gnachman/iterm2/issues/143#note_26403647

I am still digging into this subject.

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