Open Terminal by Keyboard Shortcut on Mac

Feb 6, 2023 - 4 Comments

Open Terminal by keyboard shortcut on Mac

Ever wished you could instantly launch the Terminal app on Mac by keyboard shortcut? Instead of relying on Spotlight and typing Terminal and hitting return, which works great and has for many years, you can actually create your own custom keyboard shortcut to open the Terminal app on MacOS.

This article will detail how you can open the Terminal application on a Mac by keyboard shortcut, a process which is accomplished by setting up the keystroke in the Shortcuts app.

How to Open Terminal by Keyboard Shortcut on Mac with Shortcuts

You can make a simple keyboard shortcut for opening the Terminal on the Mac by using the Shortcuts app, here’s how:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on Mac, then pull down the “File” menu and choose New Shortcut
  2. In the right-side panel of suggestions, double-click on “Open App”, you may need to search for this if you do not see it right away, and this will add it to the left panel
  3. Now click on the ‘App’ text to access the pulldown menu of available applications, selecting “Terminal” from the list of apps
  4. Now click into the window titlebar and give the shortcut a name, like “Open Terminal”, and then click the settings button in the right-side panel of options
  5. Click the “Add Keyboard Shortcut” option, then press the keyboard shortcut sequence you want to use to open the Terminal app on the Mac (for example, shift+fn+ctrl+T as shown in this article)
  6. make a keyboard shortcut for opening Terminal on Mac

  7. Shift focus to another app on the Mac, then test out your new keyboard shortcut by pressing it (shift+fn+ctrl+T if you chose the same as the article) and the Terminal app will open immediately
  8. Close out of Shortcuts, the Open Terminal shortcut will save automatically
  9. Terminal window on Mac

And like magic, you’re now using a keyboard shortcut to open the Terminal app from anywhere in MacOS.

Be sure you do not pick a keyboard shortcut that conflicts with another, which is why we chose a somewhat elaborate one for the example here. If you pick one that is common and conflicts with another key command, it will not work.

You can use this same trick to open any application by keyboard shortcut, but obviously we’re focusing on the Terminal here. Another handy app to do this with is setting Activity Monitor to open by keyboard shortcut, or any other that you use frequently.

We’re focusing on accomplishing this with the Shortcuts app for Mac, but you can also make custom keyboard shortcuts with Automator on the Mac if you prefer to, and that works with older versions of MacOS as well. If you’re running an earlier version of MacOS and don’t have access to Shortcuts app, or you just don’t like it, then Automator is basically the same process but you make a Quick Action and choose the “Launch Application” option instead, then manually configure the keyboard shortcut in the Shortcuts preference panel of MacOS system settings.


Related articles:

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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. o.angel says:

    i need a NEW iTerm window, not just focus on the old one

  2. Garry says:

    Sorry but, this did not work for me. I got to Step 4, “click the settings button in the right-side panel of options”.

    I can’t see a settings button – only a “Shortcut Details” button and an “Action Library” button.

    Also, there’s no step listed for adding “Receive any input from Quick Actions” as is shown in the graphic. And, there’s no step listed for showing shortcut details.

    But, the main problem is how to find the “Settings” button. I can’t find or see a way to force the Settings button to be visible.

    BUT, there is a “Add Keyboard shortcut” button in the “Details” pane of the “Shortcut Details”. I used that and it works.

    I’m on macOS 13.2.


  3. K. Jenkins says:

    What OS versions have a Shortcuts app? I am still mostly on versions before Big Sur, and set up application launch commands using Automator.

  4. Budd says:

    Step 4: Title added. Unable to find “the settings button in the right-side panel of options”.
    The pictured lines stack is not visible. Replaced with the info circle.
    “Run with” found in Details

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