iTerm + BetterTouchTool

The best terminal emulator for Mac OS X is iTerm2. I especially love the drop-down style windows. No matter what I’m doing, there’s always a command prompt a ⌘+Tab away. And it floats over my current windows, so I can read commands from Stackoverflow while I’m typing #noob.

This is the year 2012 though, and while we don’t have jet packs yet, we should at least be able to flick things around a screen with a swipe of our fingers. Enter BetterTouchTool. This is basically an awesome app that lets you define a bunch of custom gestures for your trackpad and Magic Mouse. Quicksilver for gestures, if you will.

The magic glue for all of this is the key-binding option in iTerm. Go to iTerm Preferences > Profiles > Hotkey Window. You can choose a shortcut key, in my case ⌃⌘O, to trigger the app. Since it’s a system-wide hotkey, choose something that doesn’t conflict with apps you use. ⌃⌘Z is a really bad choice if you use Photoshop ;)

Once you have the HotKey set up in iTerm, set up a Global gesture in BetterTouchTool. I’m a fan of the three-finger swipe down, it feels natural and doesn’t conflict with Spaces for me, since I’m still rocking Snow Leopard. Obviously hook it up to the same shortcut key you used in iTerm. Now, you should be able to swipe to get a command prompt.

But how about sending it back up? It feels natural to swipe back up, but there’s no way to trigger that in iTerm. So, fellow hacker, add a second gesture, the three-finger swipe up, and bind it to ⌘+Tab. This simply switches back to the original app you were using before you triggered iTerm, and effectively sends the window swishing back up.