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

Jan 8, 2018 - 27 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

Optionally, you can Get OpenTerm from GitHub here and then side load the app onto iPhone or iPad with these instructions using Xcode and a Mac.

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 ( 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!

And if you liked this app, or the concept of it, you might really like iSH, which is a full Linux shell for iPad and iPhone, but it must be installed to iOS through TestFlight as described here.


Related articles:

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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Krista Moser says:

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves. My Apple products, phone, iPad, Iwatch, MacBook Pro Have all been hacked by a stalker for over 3 years. Maybe you ought to think about those kind of situations before you kindly hand out this information. It has caused an EXTREMEL AMOUNT OF STRESS, scared the shit out of me and I can’t find anyone to help me make it stop and protect myself and my right to privacy. I have spent thousands of dollars for nothing.

    • andrew says:

      SERIOUSLY!! these are too invasive. not everyone needs or wants developer access . it’s too much. i’ve JUST found out my hackers. there is 8 of them. they copied my sim cards. they rooted., tethered, mirrored my phone. i went through 8 phones , 6 laptop, xbox, kindle and 2 smart tvs. i got kicked out of school . my whole identity stolen! i live alone with no job and it’s impossible to find one without a secure device…. i went through 50 emails!!!!! they obsfucate , and ported my emails. constant audio record, photo and video, every activity was surveyed , transcribed, downloaded and printed. they also switched files to incriminate me because i was not backing down to finding the evil culprits!! and it took me 6 weeks = 700hrs investigation. a total loss of $40k . i have had 0 access to any account. still haven’t paid rent from last month or this one. i was frozen…. i contacted attorney general, police detectives, and FBI. no one helped!!!!!! if it wasn’t for me doing the hard work, i would be homeless. this is nuts

  2. rmpbklyn says:

    how you get root access to files

    • Mike says:

      You, type us then your password. If you dont have a password for root. Which I suggest you make one. The default is alpine.

  3. Rocky says:

    Which region is the app available?Cause it alway show the app is not available in your region.

  4. David L says:

    Great tutorial!

  5. Nathan says:

    What about gcc? Is it possible to compile programs for iOS inside the terminal and run them? That would be amazing.

    • Paul says:

      Nathan, yes but what you are probably looking for is another great app called iSH which lets you add and run apps within a terminal on an iPad or iPhone:

      It’s basically an alpine linux shell that runs atop iOS, with package manager and all. It has to be installed through the TestFlight app (free from Apple) but the whole thing works great.

  6. Jony says:

    Hi, I’m trying to download your app but it says it’s unavailable. I live in Denmark

  7. Bachsau says:

    It’s bulls*** as long as you can’t install any applications in it. It doesn’t need ssh or nano. What it needs is gcc and a package manager.

  8. Swoon says:

    Can I change the MAC address using this? If so, what are the commands?


  9. Paul Jamieson says:

    So how about Ping, Telnet, etc ..?
    I am looking for a DOS (command line) app equivalent .. any

  10. Issac Paul says:

    Hello admin,
    Does OpenTerm / Any other iOS Terminal app supports bash commands ?!? Waiting for your reply,
    Issac Paul

  11. shohey1226 says:

    An alternative is devAny( which is the interface of unix backend. You need to set up backend processes but you can work with bluetooth keyboard.

  12. Omar KN says:

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

    like ls, cd …

    Omar KN

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. Patrick Hogan says:

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

  16. KiltedPhotograher says:

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

  17. OmarKN says:

    Hi and good day,

    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

  18. fe says:

    No awk, no sed = no fun

  19. 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:
    It’s not on the AppStore, though.

  20. 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.

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