Best Terminal Alternatives for Mac Users (Free and Paid)
The Terminal is a powerful tool that allows users to access the Unix command line on macOS devices. The default Terminal app has served Mac users well for decades. Still, many alternative terminal apps have been developed over the years for power users with additional features like Syntax highlighting, customization options, and quality-of-life improvements.
In this article, we will discuss the top Mac Terminal alternatives and their unique capabilities.
We’ll cover free and paid Terminal apps Mac options across various categories to help you find the best terminal replacement based on your needs and preferences.
Let’s get started!
Top Terminal Alternatives for macOS Sonoma (2024)
There are several reasons why some Mac users prefer using Terminal alternatives over the built-in Terminal app. These alternative applications offer additional features, personalization options, tools for enhanced performance, and increased terminal speed.
iTerm2 is likely the most popular alternative terminal for macOS. It’s open source, completely free, and packed with useful features for power users and programmers.
- Hotkey window creation and splitting.
- Custom profiles for cosmetic preferences per tab.
- Autocomplete with history search.
- Password manager and token filler integration.
- Real-time logging and session restoration.
- Triggers and notifications for certain text or events.
- Advanced paste handling (prefix text on paste, etc.).
The major advantages of iTerm2 software are all the nifty quality-of-life improvements that speed up workflows compared to the stock Terminal app. The hotkeys, autocomplete, logging, and other features add up to a lot of saved time and keystrokes during extensive terminal use.
The documentation and community support around iTerm2 are also stellar, making it easy to customize and optimize your setup. Overall, there’s little reason not to upgrade from the standard Terminal app if you work in the command line frequently.
2. Hyper (Free)
Hyper is another free, open-source Mac terminal alternative developed by Zeit and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems.
- Extensive plugin ecosystem to add features.
- Embedded development tools and editors.
- Custom theming options with CSS/JS.
- Tiling window management shortcuts.
- Async clipboard handling.
- Secure credential handling.
Hyper’s main advantage is its focus on extensibility and customization via plugins. There are over 100 plugins that provide added security, design tweaks, workflow improvements, and integrations with various developer tools. This allows tailoring Hyper to your ideal terminal setup.
Their tiling window management is also useful, making it easy to split sessions horizontally or vertically via keyboard shortcuts. Overall, Hyper brings several essential enhancements similar to iTerm2 wrapped up in a sleek and extensible package. It’s a top choice for developers and users who value customization.
Also Read: How to Open and Use Terminal on Mac
3. Kitty (Free)
Kitty is a fast, GPU-based terminal alternative focused on high performance. It uses OpenGL libraries to accelerate text rendering, enabling buttery smooth scrolling and excellent responsiveness when working with long outputs or handling large log files.
- Fast graphics rendering with OpenGL.
- Tabbed and tiling interface modes.
- Remote control sessions from a smartphone.
- Sophisticated background tasks and triggers.
- Custom layouts for organizing windows.
- Extensive keyboard shortcut customization.
The killer feature of Kitty is undoubtedly its speed. When dealing with outputs numbering thousands of lines or fast-moving log streams, Kitty remains snappy and lag-free where most terminal emulators would choke and stall.
The background tasks and remote control features also enable interesting workflows. You can initiate a lengthy process, detach from it and still monitor it from your phone, avoiding the need to keep your computer awake. Overall Kitty brings unique technical advantages thanks to its GPU foundations that excel for terminal power users.
Alacritty is another GPU-powered Mac Terminal alternative focused on performance and simplicity. It supports OpenGL rendering for speed just like Kitty but opts for a more minimalist feature set, emphasizing raw performance.
- Barebones configuration – not big on customization.
- Simple, clean, and fast graphical rendering.
- Vi-style keybindings for navigation by default.
- The scrollback buffer stores output history.
- Support for .desktop files and external launchers.
The ultimate aim behind Alacritty was to create a simple but well-performing terminal. There aren’t tons of customization options or extra features. But everything it does, it aims to do well – from fast rendering to intuitive controls.
Consider Alacritty as an alternative if you want a lightning-fast, minimalist terminal that staus unobtrusive. It delivers excellent performance while maintaining low resource usage. Just don’t expect extensive configuration or plugin support.
Terminus is a fully-featured terminal app built with Electron that enables terminal use within a convenient GUI environment.
- Tabbed interface with multiple sessions.
- Easy terminal launching with desktop file creation.
- Custom CSS theming and window transparency.
- Password and secret key management.
- Multi-cursor and multi-selection capabilities.
- Streamlined JSON configurations.
The main appeal of Terminus is having your terminals integrated neatly into tabbed windows within the app’s slick interface rather than floating independently. Everything launches and runs within Terminus’s managed UI.
This gives your terminals consistency while making the management of multiple sessions and workflows convenient. If you handle lots of separate terminal instances, Terminus can help streamline the experience considerably.
Paid Terminal Alternatives for Mac to Use in 2024
The free apps above cover many users’ needs, but there are also paid Mac Terminal alternatives that unlock additional capabilities at affordable price points:
Zoc is a Mac Terminal alternative tailored towards professionals who need to remotely access Unix servers or mainframes. It focuses on robust connectivity, encrypted sessions, session logging/replay, and automated workflows.
- High-performance emulation for major terminal types.
- Secure connectivity via SSH and telnet.
- Offers Character-by-character replay of session logs.
- AppleScript and REST API for automation.
- Offline work on saved transcript files.
Zoc shines for teams that need to troubleshoot remote production servers without causing disruption. The ability to replay terminal streams in full fidelity enables the resolution of issues without the need to reproduce problems on a live system.
There are also many automation options for tasks like regularly backing up session transcripts. For dedicated remote access to business systems, Zoc is hard to beat.
TotalTerminal focuses on delivering a fully customizable terminal environment right within macOS Finder. It enables opening tabs and windows directly in Finder sidebars to access shells from anywhere.
- Tight Finder integration with sidebars and tabs.
- Per-window background and text styling.
- Password manager and secrets management.
- Bulk file renames and permissions tools.
- Advanced environment variables support.
- Full AppleScript and shell automation.
TotalTerminal aims to make launching and accessing shells frictionless. Tabs live persistently in Finder for convenient access rather than being hidden away in separate apps.
The file tools also enable working directly on files in Finder while using terminal commands for advanced operations. For those seeking deeply integrated terminal access across macOS via Finder, rather than a separate emulator, TotalTerminal delivers a uniquely unified experience.
Final Thoughts: Which Terminal Alternative Suits Your Mac Needs?
This wraps up our guide on top Mac Terminal alternatives to use in 2024. There are excellent options for all types of use cases – from professional server access to customizing a development environment, you will find an ideal option in this list.
Identifying the limitations you want to overcome or the capabilities you wish to add compared to the stock Terminal app makes it easy to choose the best alternative for your needs.
The world of macOS terminal alternatives has never been richer. Take advantage by tailoring your CLI workflow to the phenomenal options now available!