Are there decent alternatives to the Terminal that Apple ships with OS X? Maybe something like PuTTY on Windows?


Because Apple did something very, very, very stupid in the upgrade to Jaguar (OS 10.2). Old versions of Terminal would pop up an "are you sure?" dialog if you ever hit cmd-Q in Terminal. But as of 10.2, it just quits the active terminal and you lose whatever you were working on!


Why, you ask, would I have a habit of hitting cmd-Q? I'm an Emacs user. I often use my TiBook to SSH to remote machines an run Emacs. The cmd key on the TiBook keyboard serves as my "alt" or "meta" key in Emacs.

Don't tell me to remap my keys in Emacs. And don't tell me that my hands will eventually learn not to do that. It's been weeks. The only thing that has kept me from losing tons of important work is that I'm often using screen and emacs.

I'm sick of it. If I can't find a decent alternative (and running XonX is not a decent alternative--it's quite heavy), the TiBook is going to become a fancy MP3 player and not much more.

Apple, what the hell were you thinking? Can I get Terminal 10.1 back somehow? Please? For a company that's fanatical about UI issues, I can't believe this.

Posted by jzawodn at November 09, 2002 12:55 AM

Reader Comments
# Matthew Walker said:

I'm not sure it's what you want exactly but you can remap the cmd-Q in to something else using the Interface Builder. Terminal in 10.2 is pretty crap, I hadn't come across that issue (I belong to the vi religion :) but you think they would have fixed width fonts working properly.

on November 9, 2002 01:32 AM
# Derek said:

GLTerm is pretty decent and has the feature you desire. :-)

on November 9, 2002 03:23 AM
# john said:


Open a Terminal window. Goto the "Terminal" Menu.

Select "Window Settings".

In the newly open "Terminal Inspector" Window... select the "Processes" option from the drop down menu.

Look about half way down see the "Prompt before closing window" selection area?

Click on "Always" selection check box thing.

then click 'use settings as defaults' to save it and you should be done... I haven't tested it yet, but will...


[later] hmmm.. only solves the close problem, not


on November 9, 2002 06:50 AM
# Mike said:

When I start 'screen' first in a Terminal window, then ssh out to another box to run emacs or whatever, then "accidentally" press Cmd-Q, I get this alert:

Closing this window will terminate the following processes inside it: login, bash, screen-3.9.11
Cancel Terminate

Might this help, or is the point that you need the Cmd(Alt)-Q keystroke for emacs?

on November 12, 2002 08:56 AM
# Jay said:
on November 12, 2002 08:09 PM
# john said:

yep, just found GLTerm too... awesome.

on November 14, 2002 12:25 PM
# Kevin Eric Saunders said:

You might want to try out dataComet-Secure VX as an alternative to Terminal ($60, 30-day demo available).

It's available for download from .


on November 17, 2002 01:38 PM
# William Dell Wisner said:

I just popped over to my running Terminal - three open windows - and hit command-Q and got:

You have 2 windows with running processes. Do you want to review open windows before quitting?

.. and clicking Cancel aborted the quit.

As a previous comment here suggested, modifying the "Processes" portion of Terminal preferences should do the trick for you. For no readily apparent reason, ssh telnet and rlogin are on the list of processes that do not force a confirmation before quitting. This is easily changed.

on November 18, 2002 11:31 PM
# Rich said:

MacWise is a native OS X terminal emulation app. It will warn you when you attempt to quit or close a window when a connection is open.
(Look in Preferences for that option).

You can get a demo at

on December 2, 2002 04:44 AM
# Jeff Boulter said:

iTerm seems to be a decent Terminal alternative on Mac OS X.

on December 18, 2002 09:30 AM
# Matthew Boedicker said:

As a temporary fix, you could wrap your emacs session in a screen session, and then just re-attach to it when you accidently close the terminal. That way you wouldn't lose any work.

Does anyone know of any VGA fonts (with the full character set, like shine or bright for xterm), for the OS X terminal?

on March 25, 2003 07:47 PM
# Tom said:

thanks to Jeff for the fix

on August 14, 2003 12:00 AM
# andrea said:

iTerm is a decent Terminal alternative for Mac OS X.

on August 30, 2003 11:16 AM
# Zeno said:

Hi there,

I had the same problem as the topicstarter posted...

Tried iTerm.. and it rocks!
Especially like the tab-feature of this app! =]


on June 3, 2005 03:21 AM
# Zeno said:


I just logged in via SSH on a linux machine..

Used IRSSI .. which uses alt-1, alt-2, etc for changing between screens.. this doesn't work..

Anyone knows how to fix this?

Thanks in advance! :) Cheers! Zeno

on June 3, 2005 03:26 AM
# erkkiperkki said:

I'm also running irssi in terminal.

The problem is that I can't click urls with my mouse. So far I've tried iTerm (cmd+click -> nothing) and GLterm which crashed instantly after I pressed enter.

So, any ideas?

on October 11, 2005 04:08 PM
# Odious said:

I've had the same problems and particularly about ssh'ng to a server that I run irssi from. Using alt+1-0 and alt+q-o work for windows 1-10 and 11-19, but I could not get the pgup and pgdn to work properly. However in xterm and iTerm pgup/pgdn work fine and the alt shortcuts don't work. The only way I've been able to get things to work so far has been hitting escape then hitting 1 or whatever window you want to jump to, but don't hold it down like you would with the alt sequence. If anyone knows of a way to bind that within xterm or iTerm I'd be interested in that. Or if someone knows a way to get pgup/pgdn/home/end to work as sending strings to the shell in

on October 19, 2005 03:20 PM
# gpf said:

I know its abit of a delay from the last post but if anyone is wanting to know how to use the pgup/pgdn in OSX terminal when using screen - use the shift key - just found it out myself, everything now works fine :)

on January 2, 2006 01:35 PM
# Max said:

Oh... Thank you very much guys! iTerm is it that I needed :)\

on January 29, 2006 11:54 PM
# Eljay said:

I just discovered iTerm... source code, HUZZAH!

GLTerm didn't do the trick for me.

You can edit the NIB.

Good fonts: Monaco, TheSansMono, Consolas, Lucida Console, Lucida Sans Typewriter, Courier New, Bitstream Vera Sans Mono, some of the various Letter Gothic fonts (which are too light & narrow for my tastes... your mileage may vary).

The greatest monospaced truetype (or opentype or postscript) font for programmers that has all the bells and whistle to take advantage of hinting and subpixel placement and antialiasing in columnarly uniform regular, bold, italic and bold-italic (rather than just regular with synthetic version of the bold and italic variants): none. Yet.

on June 24, 2006 10:28 AM
# Matt said:

If you're on a MacbookPro laptop, and using irssi with screen on a remote machine via ssh; heres what works (for me)

To switch between irssi windows (normally alt+1 etc.) - use;
Press Esc, let go - then press number, 1, 2 whatever

To pageup/pagedown - use this keyboard sequence (must be in this order)

Press (and hold) Shift-key, now Press and hold fn-key, now with these keys pressed (in that order) - press the pageup (arrow up) or pagedown (arrow down) keys to pageup/down

If your backspace key is acting as a 'delete'-key in irssi in screen, Hit command+I, in terminal to bring up your window preferences, under the Keyboard settings, tick 'Delete key sends backspace' - that should fix that.

So, slightly more tricky on the laptop, but achievable none-the-less


on July 3, 2006 03:42 AM
# Stoner said:

You all need to learn to fuckin experiment.

For IRSSI to work correctly WITH ALT, instead of escape:
Go to the applications Menu:
Terminal->Window Settings
Choose the option for keyboard settings in the drop down at the top, and check 'use option key as meta key'. Fixed.

The quitting problem is insanely easy to fix.

In the application's menu:
Terminal->Window Settings
Choose the option for process settings in the drop down at the top, and choose the radio button that says always.

Although that isn't even really a problem. You'd have to be a complete moron to not learn your leson after losing your work a few times.

iTerm is crap. GLTerm is crap. The standard Mac OS-X terminal is perfect, you just need to try to figure it out before you go around saying it's crap. RTFM. :)

-- monokrome --

on January 9, 2007 01:34 AM
# Tom said:

> You all need to learn to fuckin experiment.

You don't get it, and let's tone down the language, please.

The problem is the author is AN EMACS USER (as am I), as opposed to people who use vi -- who don't seem to understand that we DO NOT use 300 baud modems anymore.

The meta key for emacs should NOT the "alt" key on a Macintosh keyboard - it is located immediately to the left of the spacebar on ALL other systems. So we want the command key to be the meta key, not that (useless) 'alt' key.

I managed to get GLTerm to do what I wanted by changing the command-key assignments in the menus, and using command as meta.

I can't find any other terminal (other than XTerm) that does what I want. My only other option is to run ansi term in emacs.

on February 22, 2007 10:06 AM
# Tim said:

> Why, you ask, would I have a habit of hitting cmd-Q? I'm an Emacs user.

There's your problem right there. Here's a nickel, kid. Get yourself a real editor.

on April 2, 2008 05:34 PM
# par said:

great comments thread, helped me get my osx term setup perfectly for irssi. But yeah, tone it down and relax! :)

on May 25, 2008 10:36 PM
# James said:

> There's your problem right there. Here's a nickel, kid. Get yourself a real editor.

Emacs is the only real editor

on August 12, 2008 10:49 AM
# Kevin G. said:

Here's the solution for iTerm:

Go to Bookmarks > Manage Profiles. Then select Keyboard Profiles > Global and choose Option Key as Meta. This works for me in version

In the interest of educating the lazyweb, these tips are incredibly helpful on the subject of OS X and keyboard stuff:

on June 6, 2009 12:27 PM
# Nicholaz Beresford said:

ZOC ( is a new terminal for OS X. It's a bit Windows style (like SecureCRT) but allows remapping of all keys, and comes with Xterm features like using Alt as the Meta key.

on June 18, 2009 08:50 AM
# Jim said:

$80 for ZOC? You have to be kidding me!

on September 4, 2009 07:18 PM
# Ulrik Plate said:

I run emacs in the terminal (uses ctrl-W for pasting). I accidentally end up hitting this combo outside of emacs which killed my terminal instantly - really bloody annoying when you have multiple jobs and buffers running.

Found the simplest solution to the problem, no remapping or change of terminal program needed:

open a terminal -> 'terminal' menu -> 'preferences' -> 'shell' tab -> set 'Prompt before closing = Always'


on July 28, 2010 06:49 AM
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