Get Terminal for iOS to Bring the Command Line to iPad and iPhone

Jan 8, 2018 - 13 Comments

Terminal for iOS brings a command line to iPad and iPhone

Ever wished you had a native command line in iOS? You know, like a Terminal app for iPad and iPhone? Wish no more, the aptly named Terminal for iOS is here, and it’s free!

Terminal is a sandboxed command line environment for iOS that has over 30 commands currently available, covering many of the most used command line tools and commands you know and love, like cat, grep, curl, gzip and tar, ln, ls, cd, cp, mv, rm, wc, and more, all available right on your iPhone or iPad.

Terminal for iOS works great on both the iPad and iPhone, and while it’s probably best suited for iPad due to the larger screen size, it’s still fun to play with on an iPhone with a smaller display.

Update: the developer changed the name to OpenTerm from Terminal, but the application otherwise remains the same.

Download OpenTerm / Terminal for iOS

Download the app to your device, the icon looks much like the same-named app on the Mac, and launch it on your iPhone or iPad to have some fun.

We have the full supported commands list further below if you’re interested in this, as does the apps description in the iOS App Store. Because the command line is completely sandboxed, it can also offer a nice and relatively safe way for beginners and more novice users to explore the command line, since all of the commands included in Terminal for iOS will work in Terminal for MacOS, as well as other unix environments.

Terminal for iOS gets particularly interesting because you can interact with iCloud Drive from it, so you can make and modify directories and files on the fly, and if you split screen the Files app with Terminal app you can watch it all unfold. This means you can tinker with iCloud Drive from an iOS device much like you can access iCloud Drive from the command line on a Mac, which opens up a lot of fun opportunities.

Terminal for iOS on iPad side by side with Files app

And yes, you can access the Terminal apps iCloud Drive data from a Mac via Finder or another iOS device via Files app, as long as they are using the same Apple ID. On the Mac just open iCloud Drive as usual and look for “Terminal” to find the default working directory of the namesake iOS app.

Terminal for iOS via iCloud Drive on Mac

Personally I’m hoping a future updated version of Terminal for iOS includes a text editor like nano, emacs, or vim, but even without one, it’s fun to use. As for the currently supported full commands list…

Open Terminal for iOS Available Commands List

OpenTerminal for iOS currently supports for the following commands:

• cat
• cd
• chflags
• chksum
• clear
• compress
• cp
• curl
• date
• du
• egrep
• fgrep
• grep
• gunzip
• gzip
• help
• link
• ln
• ls
• mkdir
• mv
• printenv
• readlink
• rm
• rmdir
• stat
• sum
• tar
• touch
• uname
• uncompress
• uptime
• wc
• whoami

Many of our command line tips are directly applicable and relevant for Terminal for iOS, including counting lines in files, downloading files with curl, checking device uptime, and much more, as long as it’s based on a command supported by the app.

Oh and this is probably worthwhile to clarify, but despite sharing the Terminal name with the native Mac app (Terminal.app found in /Applications/Utilities/ of MacOS), Terminal for iOS is not an official Apple release. Instead it’s the work of a crafty developer Louis D’hauwe who open sourced the project, found here on Github if you feel like digging around in the source code or building it yourself in Xcode to modify and sideload to an iOS device. But unofficial or not, it is a command line, in iOS. Woohoo!

As you can see there’s plenty to get started with, though a text editor and ssh would really take this app over the top. Fingers crossed!

Terminal for iPad

If you like to tinker around in the command line, you’re sure to have fun with this app on your iPad or iPhone, so check it out!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Command Line, iPad, iPhone

13 Comments

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  1. Howie Isaacks says:

    Nice, but it can’t do ssh. For this to be useful to me, I need it to be able to ssh into one of my Linux servers.

    • Paul says:

      I agree overall but this is still a fun app to use and experiment with, and gives you an idea of how powerful the potential is.

      But I agree, to be ultra useful this needs ssh, nano, emacs, vim, git, top, and some other common unix utilities. Then it would really shine.

      There are a few ssh apps for iPad though, like Prompt, Termius, and Shelly. Check them out.

  2. If you need ssh, there is Blinkshell. For the editor, there is iVim. For git, WorkingCopy.

    One of the forks of Blinkshell combines the commands of Terminal and the SSH ability of Blink: https://github.com/holzschu/blink
    It’s not on the AppStore, though.

  3. fe says:

    No awk, no sed = no fun

  4. OmarKN says:

    Hi and good day,
    Interesting!

    As is one can’t run those commands, such as ls … because the PATH is not set for ~/Documents .

    So the dummies among us need some more advice.

    /
    with best regards,
    Omar KN
    Stockholm, Sweden

  5. KiltedPhotograher says:

    I have 5 ubuntu machines that I regularly access with my Ipad, and found SHELLY to be an invaluable tool!

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shelly-ssh-client/id989642999?mt=8

  6. Patrick Hogan says:

    It looks like Apple pulled it from the iTunes Store. =(

  7. Ace Hawl says:

    I don’t get it, what do I put in so I can go in the terminal? The article fails to clarify how to actually use this app.

  8. Omar KN says:

    How to set the PATH for ~/Documents or other?

    … so that I can actually use ls, cd …

    /
    with best regards,
    Omar KN
    Stockholm, Sweden

  9. Omar KN says:

    How to set up the app so that one can actually use it,

    like ls, cd …

    /
    Omar KN

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