How can I write a bash script in Mac OS X that opens a Terminal window in a specific directory? I'd assume something like:

open /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app

But that does nothing (maybe it's loading the Terminal application which is already open instead of launching a new Terminal window). And of course it doesn't cd into a directory as I haven't specified that...

3 Answers 3


Here is a small script I knocked up :

on run argv
  set dir to quoted form of (first item of argv)
  tell app "Terminal" to do script "cd " & dir
end run

If you save this and make it executable

chmod +x script_filename

and then run it

script_filename ~/Desktop

then it will open up a new terminal window and change to the directory in the argument.


As of Mac OS X Lion 10.7, if you open a folder with Terminal it will create a new terminal at that location. e.g., you can drag a folder onto the Terminal application icon, or into a tab bar to create a new tab, and there are Services (New Terminal at Folder) you can use from the contextual menu to open a new window or tab for a selected folder in Finder or other applications (or even a pathname selected in text).

To do the equivalent from the command-line (or a shell script):

open -a Terminal /path/to/folder

This is the command-line equivalent of dragging the folder onto the Terminal application icon. (You can also supply a full path for Terminal if you want to specify a particular copy/version of the application.)

  • Works perfect!!
    – at01
    Aug 15, 2011 at 6:42

I'm not sure if the following works from a bash script, but at least I found out how to open specific tabs in specific directories:

In the Preferences, under Settings, you copy the profile that you would normally like to use. Under Shell, you can tell it to "Run command": cd /some/directory. You will also want to check "Run inside shell". Optionally, you can specify a title under Window.

Add more profiles in this manner.

Then close all terminal windows, then open a profile in a new window, plus another profile in a new tab, plus another profile in a new tab. Now you have a window with three tabs. Save this as a window group.

From now on, whenever you have Terminal running, you can open this window group, and you will get a new window with these tabs in these directories.

Open question: how do I tell Terminal to open a new window group, from a bash script?

  • That only works if you want the new window to open with your default shell. It doesn't work, for example, if your default shell is tcsh and you want to open a new terminal window running bash in a certain directory. Sep 14, 2016 at 23:04

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