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Sort of like the Windows+R command in the windows world? That actually just lets you run a command but you get the idea.

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15 Answers 15

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Assuming your running Snow Leopard +space will open Spotlight which can be used to run terminal.

Spotlight can be bound to another key combination but the default is similar to Windows+R.

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I'm going with this as the answer because you don't need to install anything... quicksilver is cool for a lot of things though! Thanks! –  longda Aug 18 '10 at 1:27
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I really wish that the default keystroke for zooming in Photoshop AND the default keystroke for changing the language input AND the default keystroke for invoking Spotlight weren't all the same. :( –  Scottie Aug 18 '10 at 8:09

This is a bit opinionated and not a direct answer: you can use iTerm and set a global hotkey for it through Preferences (+,) > Keys > Hotkey.

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I wanted a shortcut to always open a new Terminal window regardless of anything else. Here is the code to do that:

tell application "Terminal"
        do script ""
        activate
    end tell
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If you have the Alfred Powerpack, you can add a hotkey in Alfred 1:

Or create a workflow in Alfred 2:

Hotkeys have a short delay by default in Alfred 2, but changing the trigger behavior reduces it:

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Alfred is brilliant, better than quicksilver in my opinion –  conorgriffin Jan 29 '11 at 15:38

Not built-in to the OS, but I've been using a free utility called Visor. What you do with it is leave your Terminal running in the background, but Visor hides it and invokes it in a Quake-style console when you hit a (user-configurable) key combo. It's pretty customizable as to how your Terminal shows/hides. Super awesome.

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Visor, while neat, I found to be a slight pain in the ass at times. –  Josh K Aug 17 '10 at 20:14
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How so? I've never encountered any bugs or crashes with it, and in my workday I'm constantly jumping to my Terminal for command-line operations. Makes things so much easier -- one quick keystroke and my Terminal pops into view with keyboard focus. –  Scottie Aug 17 '10 at 20:22
    
Cool tip, thanks Scottie! –  longda Aug 18 '10 at 1:28
    
I hate that TotalTerminal (new Visor name) doesn't play well with full-screen apps (and the developer isn't likely to fix it) –  Dan Feb 16 '12 at 2:03

Solution suggested by @NReilingh is fine but it fails if Terminal.app is running and it has no opened window (I've tested it in OSX 10.7).

Replacing Launch Application action with Run AppleScript action and setting the following code to be run does the trick:

on run {input, parameters}
  tell application "Terminal"
    activate
    reopen
  end tell
  return input
end run

Here's the full post: Mac OS X: Launch Terminal from keyboard shortcut

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You could also use reopen to create a new default window if there are no open windows. The script is blocked until the application finishes opening, so it seems to take longer if you run it with FastScripts. open -a also does something like reopen, and it doesn't block scripts. –  Lri Sep 28 '12 at 21:17
    
@LauriRanta you're right about reopen, thanks for pointing it out. –  Claudio d'Angelis Sep 28 '12 at 23:23

As of Snow Leopard, this actually is built into the OS.

Launch Automator and create a service that receives no input from any application. From the Actions Library, add the 'Launch Application' action to the workflow. Select the 'Terminal' application in the drop-down list of Applications. Save your new service and then assign a keyboard shortcut to it in:
System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Services

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+1 for excellent solution –  Homer6 Jul 19 '12 at 19:18
    
@NReilingh You are correct. I'm abashed. Inaccurate comment deleted! –  Gabriel Sep 3 '12 at 17:50
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There's a bug where the shortcuts for Automator services don't always work until the services menu has been shown once from the menu bar. They don't work when an application that doesn't have a menu bar or a services menu is frontmost. There's also a small delay before services are run. –  Lri Sep 28 '12 at 21:12
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It's true--this method is really not perfect. I discovered this when I was trying to answer the question for myself a while back, but eventually settled on Spark. –  NReilingh Sep 28 '12 at 22:45
    
Confirmed that this method also works in OS X 10.9 dev preview –  Mark Jul 9 '13 at 19:49

Although I think the Automator / Keyboard binding to Services is better, I think I should mention Quicksilver, which gives you excellent keyboard services for the mac.

You should read this article about Quicksilver.

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This is pretty close: CDTo.

"Fast mini application that opens a Terminal.app window cd'd to the front most finder window. This app is designed (including it's icon) to placed in the finder window's toolbar."

Ideally, you want a tool that mimics the built-in feature of MacOS 9:

enter image description here

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I use Spark and have ++§ (I have a UK keyboard layout; § is just below esc) to launch the terminal. I prefer it to using Services/AppleScripts because it's faster. Also it doesn't add any visible UI elements like other solutions (I'm very anal about keeping my workspace as streamlined as possible).

I think development for Spark has stopped but it works perfectly on Snow Leopard.

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I use Open Terminal. Check it out here.

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I love Apptivate. Like Spark, Apptivate lets you "assign system wide shortcuts to any application, document or scriptfile." It just does this one thing, and does it pretty well. It's very small, and doesn't use much system resource.

One great feature of Apptivate is that if it detect the application, say Terminal.app, has already been running, Apptivate would hide it instead of launching it again.

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I'm using FastScripts to do this. It's free for up to 10 keyboard shortcuts, $14.95 to enable unlimited keyboard shortcuts (I'm not affiliated with Red Sweater Software, just a happy customer).

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DTerm is accessed via a user-configurable hotkey, and pops up a window in which you can execute a terminal command in the current directory. For example, if you're in Finder and want to tar some files, you just hit the hotkey and run tar, without the need to change directories. Pressing Shift+Enter instead of just Enter after typing your command will execute it in a new Terminal window, from which you can keep working.

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I would recommend installing QuickSilver. It's an application launcher that will remember the applications you launch most frequent and recommend them first. It's easy to launch any application with a few keystrokes.

QuickSilver is the first Application I install on every new Mac.

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Quicksilver is really cool and very close to what I'm looking for! –  longda Aug 18 '10 at 1:26
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Quicksilver is great but it's no longer in development. the new Alfred app is very similar, supported and in development too. I got it on the Mac App store and it's replaced Quicksilver for me –  conorgriffin Jan 29 '11 at 15:39
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I have to agree, I've switched from QuickSilver to Alfred (with their PowerPack) and have not looked back. It's faster, integrates well, and is being developed pretty rapidly. –  Shane Stillwell Feb 1 '11 at 0:35

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