I recently moved from a well-configured Ubuntu to Mac. I used Emacs for many years but I am too lazy to re-install it (and re-configure it). One of the useful features in Emacs shell is that you can simply move the cursor around the output text using the arrow keys, select and edit - as if it was a standard text editor.

Is there any terminal with that feature in OS X? I have tried iTerm2, which supports smart search and selections, but I couldn't find exactly what I want - some keyboard-shortcut that will turn the current tab into "text editor" mode.

Editing the text is not important - I just want to be able to select text without touching the mouse, i.e. by moving the cursor around using the arrow keys (left, right, up, down), and select by holding shift. Yes, I know about the great ... | pbcopy trick - it's awesome in other use cases.

  • EMACS is already installed on OS X, and your old EMACS configuration files should port without too many problems. I think that to get what you want you'd have to use EMACS, I don't think that terminal emulators will do what you want.
    – Ɱark Ƭ
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 12:45
  • I think it's time to move on...
    – Oren
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 16:46
  • Or install OS X 10.4 :) It actually did have a keyboard selection mode in its Terminal.
    – calum_b
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 18:13
  • Really? And they removed it later? I am using 10.10.5.
    – Oren
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 12:54
  • Install aquamacs.org and use Emacs shell mode.
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


Just in case anyone else lands here from a search engine:

iTerm supports this, and it's called Copy Mode

Copy Mode allows you to make selections using the keyboard. To enter or exit Copy Mode, select Edit > Copy Mode. You can also enter copy mode by pressing Shift+Arrow key immediately after making a selection with the mouse. A special cursor rendered as a downward-pointing arrow is visible while in Copy Mode.

For some reason it's not documented there, but for me the keyboard shortcut to enter this mode is: CMD + Shift + C

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