iTerm 2 is an amazing Terminal replacement (err, technically terminal emulator) for Mac users. If you spend any time at all in the terminal, free from the prescriptive constraints of the GUI…iTerm 2 is worth checking out. All of us begin our terminal journey learning the basics; the commands associated with moving around the filesystem, basic file manipulation, and probably a few administrative commands (e.g. chmod +r file). Learning how to operate the terminal itself quickly and efficiently is the next stage in your journey. Imagine the power one wields when being able to split terminal panes or delete entire sentences with a single keystroke…

The following is a list of commands and key bindings I originally discovered here.

If you’re experiencing any issues with your key bindings, you should check out this article.

Tabs and Windows

Function Shortcut
New Tab + T
Close Tab or Window + W (same as many mac apps)
Go to Tab + Number Key (ie: ⌘2 is 2nd tab)
Go to Split Pane by Direction + Option + Arrow Key
Cycle iTerm Windows + backtick (true of all mac apps and works with desktops/mission control)
Split Window Vertically (same profile) + D
Split Window Horizontally (same profile) + Shift + D (mnemonic: shift is a wide horizontal key)
Move a pane with the mouse + Alt + Shift and then drag the pane from anywhere
Fullscreen + Enter
Maximize a pane + Shift + Enter (use with fullscreen to temp fullscreen a pane!)
Resize Pane Ctrl + + Arrow (given you haven’t mapped this to something else)
Less Often Used By Me  
Go to Split Pane by Order of Use + ] , + [
Split Window Horizontally (new profile) Option + + H
Split Window Vertically (new profile) Option + + V
Previous Tab + Left Arrow (I usually move by tab number)
Next Tab + Right Arrow
Go to Window + Option + Number

Basic Moves

Function Shortcut
Move back one character Ctrl + B
Move forward one character Ctrl + F
Delete current character Ctrl + D
Delete previous word (in shell) Ctrl + W

Moving Faster

A lot of shell shortcuts work in iterm and it’s good to learn these because arrow keys, home/end keys and Mac equivalents don’t always work. For example + Left Arrow is usually the same as Home (go to beginning of current line) but that doesn’t work in the shell. Home works in many apps but it takes you away from the home row.

Function Shortcut
Move to the start of line Ctrl + A or Home
Move to the end of line Ctrl + E or End
Move forward a word Option + F
Move backward a word Option + B
Set Mark + M
Jump to Mark + J
Moving by word on a line (this is a shell thing but passes through fine) Ctrl + Left/Right Arrow
Cursor Jump with Mouse (shell and vim - might depend on config) Option + Left Click

Copy and Paste with iTerm without using the mouse

Function Shortcut
Enter Copy Mode Shift + + C
Enter Character Selection Mode in Copy Mode Ctrl + V
Move cursor in Copy Mode HJKL vim motions or arrow keys
Copy text in Copy Mode Ctrl + K

Copy actions goes into the normal system clipboard which you can paste like normal.

Search the Command History

Function Shortcut
Search as you type Ctrl + R and type the search term; Repeat Ctrl + R to loop through result
Search the last remembered search term Ctrl + R twice
End the search at current history entry Ctrl + Y
Cancel the search and restore original line Ctrl + G


Function Shortcut
Clear the screen/pane (when Ctrl + L won’t work) + K (I use this all the time)
Broadcast command to all panes in window (nice when needed!) + Alt + I (again to toggle)
Find Cursor + / or use a theme or cursor shape that is easy to see