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ttab — programmatically open a new terminal tab or window

A CLI for Unix-like platforms that programmatically opening a new terminal tab/window in one of the following terminal applications, optionally with a command to execute and/or a specific title and specific display settings (profile).

Note: iTerm2 and gnome-terminal support is currently not covered by the automated tests run before every release.


Important: On macOS, irrespective of installation method, Terminal / iTerm2 ( needs to be granted access for assistive devices in order for ttab to function properly, which is a one-time operation that requires administrative privileges.
If you're not prompted on first run and get an error message instead, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy, tab Privacy, select Accessibility, unlock, and make sure / is in the list on the right and has a checkmark.
For more information, see Apple's support article on the subject.

Installation via Homebrew (macOS only)

With Homebrew installed, run the following:

curl -LO && 
HOMEBREW_NO_AUTO_UPDATE=1 brew install --formula ttab.rb && 
rm ttab.rb

Tip of the hat to @dsingingwolfboy for inspiring me to add this installation method and providing the original formula, and to @leemm for updating the instructions after Homebrew stopped supporting installing directly from an online .rb file.


  • The Homebrew version may lag behind the npm registry version if later versions relate solely to the Linux-only Gnome Terminal functionality.
  • To remove ttab later, run brew rm ttab.

Installation from the npm registry

With Node.js installed, install from the npm registry:

[sudo] npm install ttab -g


  • Whether you need sudo depends on how you installed Node.js and whether you've changed permissions later; if you get an EACCES error, try again with sudo.
  • The -g ensures global installation and is needed to put ttab in your system's $PATH.

Manual installation

  • Download this bash script as ttab.
  • Make it executable with chmod +x ttab.
  • Move it to a folder in your $PATH, such as /usr/local/bin.


# Open a new tab in the current terminal window.

# Open a new tab in a new terminal window.
ttab -w

# Open a new tab and execute the specified command before showing the prompt.
ttab ls -l "$HOME/Library/Application Support"

# Open a new tab and execute *multiple* commands in it - note how the entire
# command line is specified as *single, quoted string*.
ttab 'git branch; git status'

# Open a new tab, switch to the specified dir., then execute the specified 
# command before showing the prompt.
ttab -d ~/Library/Application\ Support ls -1 

# Open a new tab with title 'How Green Was My Valley' and settings 'Grass'.
# See the note re use of -t in iTerm2 below.
ttab -t 'How Green Was My Valley' -s Grass

# Open a new tab and execute the specified script before showing the prompt.
ttab /path/to/someScript

# Open a new tab, execute the specified script, and exit.
ttab exec /path/to/someScript

# Open a new tab, execute a command, wait for a keypress, and exit.
ttab 'ls "$HOME/Library/Application Support"; echo Press a key to exit.; read -rsn 1; exit'

# Open a new tab in iTerm2 (if installed).
ttab -a iTerm2 echo 'Hi from iTerm2.'


Find concise usage information below; for complete documentation, read the manual online, or, once installed, run man ttab (ttab --man if installed manually).

$ ttab --help

Opens a new terminal tab or window, on macOS in either or; on Linux in Gnome Terminal, if available.

    ttab [-w] [-s <settings>] [-t <title>] [-q] [-g|-G] [-d <dir>] [<cmd> ...]

    -w                  Open new tab in new terminal window.
    -s <settings>       Assign a settings set (profile).
    -t <title>          Specify title for new tab.
    -q                  Clear the new tab's screen.
    -g                  Terminal/iTerm only: create in background (don't
                        activate application).
    -G                  Terminal/iTerm: don't activate new tab and create in
                        gnome-terminal: don't activate new tab, except with -w.
    -d <dir>            Specify working directory; -d '' disables inheriting
                        the current dir. in Terminal/iTerm.
    -a Terminal | iTerm Open the new tab in the given terminal app on macOS.
    <cmd> ...           Command to execute in the new tab.
    "<cmd> ...; ..."    Multi-command command line (passed as single operand).

Standard options: --help, --man, --version, --home

Note to iTerm2 users: The -t option for specifying a title only works if the new tab's active profile is configured to show the session name in the title, which can be configured via the Preferences dialog as shown by @francis-lookback here.


Copyright (c) 2015-2021 Michael Klement (, released under the MIT license.


This project gratefully depends on the following open-source components, according to the terms of their respective licenses.

npm dependencies below have optional suffixes denoting the type of dependency; the absence of a suffix denotes a required run-time dependency: (D) denotes a development-time-only dependency, (O) an optional dependency, and (P) a peer dependency.

npm dependencies


Versioning complies with semantic versioning (semver).

  • v0.7.1 (2021-04-06):

    • [fix] Fix for #13: -g and -G now work in macOS Big Sur too.
  • v0.7.0 (2020-08-24):

    • [enhancement] Thanks to @ksvirsky, ttab is now also available on Linux, assuming gnome-terminal is available.
  • v0.6.1 (2017-11-08):

    • [fix] macOS 10.13 (High Sierra compatibility), which makes -G work again.
    • [installation] Homebrew formula added (added post-release, on 2019-12-22).
  • v0.6.0 (2017-06-21):

    • [enhancement] -d '' now prevents ttab from implicitly changing to what it thinks the working directory should be; useful for creating tabs/windows that set their own working directory.
  • v0.5.1 (2017-03-23):

    • [doc] Sample command fixed.
    • [dev] Reliability of tests improved.
  • v0.5.0 (2016-10-01):

    • [new feature] -q now allows clearing the "screen" of the new tab after opening using clear, assuming any command (list) passed succeeded.
    • [enhancement] A quoted multi-command shell command string can now be specified as a single - and only - operand, without having to precede with an explicit eval command.
    • [behavior change] If no custom title is specified with -t <title>, no attempt is made anymore to auto-derive a meaningful tab title from the shell command specified, as there is no heuristic that works well in all cases.
    • [fix] Issue #7: iTerm2 now also preserves the current working dir. when opening a new tab in the current window.
  • v0.4.0 (2016-09-13):

    • [enhancement] -a Terminal|iTerm2 now allows specifying the target Terminal application, which is useful for launching ttab from non-terminal applications such as Alfred.
    • [fix] Specifying a syntactically invalid shell command to execute in the new tab now causes ttab to report a nonzero exit code.
  • v0.3.1 (2016-06-03):

    • [enhancement] Support for iTerm2 v3 added (whose AppleScript syntax changed fundamentally)
    • [enhancement] Setting a tab title is now also supported in iTerm2 v2.
  • v0.3.0 (2016-05-04):

    • [enhancement] Experimental support for iTerm2 ( added.
  • v0.2.1 (2015-09-15):

    • [dev] Makefile improvements; various other behind-the-scenes tweaks.
  • v0.2.0 (2015-09-14):

    • [enhancement] You can now use embedded (escaped, if necessary) double-quotes inside a multi-command string passed via eval.
    • [doc] If installed via the npm registry, a man page is now installed (view with man ttab); if installed manually, ttab --man shows a plain-text version. ttab -h now only prints concise, single-page usage information.
  • v0.1.8 (2015-09-11):

    • [doc] Incorrect new-window option corrected in examples.
    • [doc, dev] Read-me improved together with the Makefile to turn off syntax highlighting for the CLI help chapter.
  • v0.1.7 (2015-06-26):

    • [doc] Read-me: npm badge changed to; license badge added.
    • [dev] Makefile updated.
  • v0.1.6 (2015-06-01):

    • [doc] Read-me improvements; typo in CLI usage help fixed.
  • v0.1.5 (2015-06-01):

    • [doc] Improved CLI usage help.
  • v0.1.4 (2015-06-01):

    • [doc] Improved CLI usage help; keywords added to package.json.
    • [dev] make browse now opens the GitHub repo in the default browser.
  • v0.1.3 (2015-06-01):

    • [fix] The -g and -G options again correctly do not activate when creating the desired tab.
    • [enhancement] Option parsing now accepts option-arguments directly attached to the option.
    • [dev] Tests added.
  • v0.1.2 (2015-06-01):

    • [doc] Manual-installation link and instructions fixed; examples fixed.
  • v0.1.1 (2015-06-01):

    • [doc] improved with respect to manual installation instructions.
  • v0.1.0 (2015-06-01):

    • Initial release.


macOS and Linux CLI for opening a new terminal tab/window, optionally with a command to execute and/or display settings




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