Increase Line Spacing in OS X Terminal to Improve Readability

Jan 5, 2015 - 4 Comments

Terminal If you’re a Mac user who finds the text output shown within Terminal app to be a bit too confined and tightly spaced, you’ll be pleased to discover that you can adjust the line spacing to accommodate your preferences. You can boost line spacing within Terminal dramatically or just a little bit (or if you really want to, shrink the line spacing too), and you may find that even a small increase to the line spacing can result in dramatically improved readability of text and command output within Terminal app.


Changing line spacing is live, so you can instantly get feedback on the difference in appearance and determine quickly if you like the adjustment or not.

How to Change Line Spacing in Terminal App of Mac OS X

  1. Open a new Terminal window if you don’t have one open already
  2. Pull down the “Terminal” menu and choose Preferences
  3. Go to the ‘Profiles’ tab
  4. Choose the “Text” tab and click the “Change…” button
  5. change-font-details-line-spacing-etc-terminal

  6. Slide the “Line Spacing” bar to the appropriate line spacing setting to your preferences, going all the way to the right increases the line spacing considerably by 1.5x
  7. change-line-spacing-terminal-mac

  8. Close out of the Preference window when satisfied

increase-line-spacing-terminal-mac

For a subtle but notable increase in spacing and readability, aim for somewhere around 1.1 to 1.3 on the Line Spacing scale.

Here’s an example of the change in readability offered by increasing line spacing, in this case it’s taking the line spacing from the default of 1.0 to the expanded 1.5. Here’s what it looks like with the increased spacing:

terminal-line-spacing-increased

And here’s the default line spacing, with lines very close together and a bit more cramped:

terminal-line-spacing-default-mac

You can actually change the line spacing per Terminal Profile, so if you use different profiles you may want to adjust the line spacing for each of them to be consistent.

Here’s another before shot of the default line spacing within Terminal app:

before-increasing-line-spacing-terminal-mac

And another shot after increasing line spacing to 1.5x in Terminal app:

after-increase-line-spacing-terminal-mac

Which would you rather look at? That’s going to be a matter of personal preference, and again it may suit you better to choose a more subtle line spacing change, around 1.1x or so.

Adjusting the line spacing this way makes things considerably easier to read while maintaining the desired formatting of command outputs.

For the best results, you may want to use this in conjunction with changing the terminals appearance components, Font, and even the background, since each of those elements can also directly impact usability of the Terminal app.

Also, remember that simply hitting Command+ (that’s command key and the plus key) will increase the font size shown in Terminal app, much like it does in Safari and other apps in Mac OS X. That doesn’t impact the line spacing, but simply boosting the font size can help to make the command line output easier to read too.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Command Line, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

4 Comments

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  1. Awesome. I spend a lot of time in Terminal, and yet I never thought to change this.

  2. Doug says:

    Wow this makes a great difference, great trick! Makes my MOTD ASCII look a little spaced, but small price to pay for improved reading ability.

    I should point out that changing the font size helps too.

  3. Jeff says:

    This is a subtle improvement over 10.9 which had the sliders but they’re unlabeled.

    Good tip.

  4. myname says:

    i knew it very long time ago

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