You’re Missing Out on a Better Mac Terminal Experience

Owen Caulfield
12 min readMay 6, 2018
iTerm vs. Hyper — my current configuration of each

Mac command line apps, plugins, tweaks, and tips to make your terminal exactly what you want it to be: functional, minimal, aesthetic, or all of the above- everyone will find something here.

When I left the world of Linux and made the full-time switch to OS X a little over a year ago, what I missed most was the robust community and plethora of options surrounding customizations, tweaks, and personalizations of the operating system and workstation. What follows is a guide outlining the quest to build my perfect OS X shell — a command line experience both functional and beautiful, without sacrificing one for the other. I hope my footsteps will save some likeminded travelers some time and frustration on their journey towards a perfect terminal experience.

Mile 1: Choosing a Shell Application


The first step on this journey, and an important one, is choosing a terminal emulation application. Within the world of OS X, there are two dominant players: iTerm, and Hyper.

This article is not meant to be an application review, so I’m not going to go deep into specifics regarding either choice’s functionality or advanced usage, but I will say the following:

Generally, iTerm is going to be the more performant option of the two. iTerm possesses a truly amazing array of options, shortcuts, and capabilities. If you are doing heavy work on the Mac command line, regularly using tmux, or require more advanced configurability, this will likely be the better fit. Find iTerm here.

Hyper is a newer player in this field, and despite having less functionality than iTerm, is inarguably the more beautiful terminal experience. This isn’t to say iTerm is ugly, but Hyper’s styling is just..nice.

Hyper is built on web technologies (HTML, CSS, JS), and has a robust collection of themes, a diverse library of easily installed plugins, and continual user contributions make this a fun and interesting…

Owen Caulfield