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For me system-wide hotkey does not work when iTerm2 is closed. Is there a way to enable it? Or maybe create an instance of iTerm that runs invisibly in background and listens for hotkey?

  • You could add it as a startup item, but it would open the full UI every time you power on the machine. – bret7600 Aug 16 '16 at 21:48
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Follow these three steps:

  1. Launch Automator from /Applications/Utilities. Create a service for launching iTerm in Automator in these steps:

    1.1. In the first window select Service and press Choose.

    Automator Create new Service

    1.2. From left sidebar select Utilities. From middle section drag Launch Application to the right section and select iTerm from the its dropdown list. Select no input from upper dropdown list. Save the document by command+S and provide a meaningful name like Launch iTerm.

Launch iTerm workflow

  1. Open System Preferences and open Keyboard section. Navigate to Shortcuts tab. From left sidebar select Services and from right list scroll to General section. In this section should be an item named Launch iTerm. Select it and then click on add shortcut button appeared in the right. Assign a shortcut like control+command+Z.

    Assign Shortcut in Keyboard shortcuts

  2. Open iTerm and navigate to the preferences. Assign the same keyboard shortcut in previous section.

    Assign keyboard shortcut in iTerm

This keyboard shortcut launches iTerm when it is not running and shows/hides iTerm when it is running.

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