Is there any way to disable Command+W in the terminal?

On several occasions I have accidentally closed a terminal window containing important information when I meant to close a Safari tab and did not realize that the terminal was the active window.

8 Answers 8


To disable W in Terminal, do the following:

  • From the  menu in the top left corner of the screen, select System Preferences. Click on Keyboard then Keyboard Shortcuts then Application Shortcuts. enter image description here

  • Click the + button to add a new shortcut

  • Select "Terminal.app" for the application, and for the command, type Close Window (this is case sensitive). In the shortcut box, give it a different shortcut, like ControlW enter image description here

  • Now W will not close your terminal windows.

  • I mis-spoke in my question. I actually meant to prevent closing a tab, but your answer still works well with the slight change of "Close Window" to "Close Tab". BTW, thanks for the VERY complete answer.
    – Ralph
    Mar 19, 2012 at 13:05
  • 5
    The program is called "Mac OS X" :-) Command-shift-4, spacebar, click in the window.
    – Daniel
    Mar 19, 2012 at 16:20
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    My system is Sierra, and I change the Close Window to the Close, it works for me. Thanks.
    – bwangel
    Mar 23, 2017 at 14:39
  • 1
    Command-ctrl-shift-4, spacebar puts the screenshots in your clipboard so you can paste them. Jan 26, 2018 at 2:03
  • 1
    Just want to add that this still works at macOS Big Sur (on Apple M1 but I don't think that matters). And just like bwangel's comments, it's "Close" instead of "Close Window". Now I can play dota2 in peace :) Nov 23, 2021 at 7:55

You can set a prompt before closing in the preferences:

Terminal Preferences → Settings → Shell

enter image description here

  • 1
    Answers crossed paths. This is a good one too.
    – Daniel
    Mar 19, 2012 at 12:44
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    I think this is the best solution for this particular use case. Disabling standard shortcuts makes me feel icky and would get frustrating when muscle-memory kicks in when I want to close a terminal tab/window.
    – ghoppe
    Mar 19, 2012 at 17:58
  • -1: OP asked a very specific question that could easily be modified for various applications. This is a Terminal.app specific answer which does not answer the question.
    – bot47
    Mar 10, 2014 at 20:14
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    For those using iTerm go to Prefrerences -> Profiles -> Session -> Prompt before closing! Make sure you are on the correct profile (your default one has the star!) images.luo.ma/osx/iterm/…
    – Shwaydogg
    Aug 30, 2014 at 19:16

I tried all of the above, and none worked for me.

What worked was changing the shortcut for the "Close" command.

enter image description here

  • 3
    Same here. "Close" worked for me but "Close Windows" did not. Oct 31, 2013 at 18:42
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    Ian, it says "iterm" not "TERMINAL" Mar 7, 2014 at 1:13
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    @LM126, yep, my example is using iTerm2, so not sure what your on about? Mar 7, 2014 at 9:38
  • you can make iterm prompt when you close a session. iterm pref -> profiles -> session: always prompt before closing. this will prevent you from accidentally close session by shot cut.
    – hihell
    Aug 16, 2018 at 10:37
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    This worked for me on Mojave 10.14.5 - Since the original answer is from 2012, this answer is now more correct. Jul 25, 2019 at 1:42

I propose this:

In iTerm: Open Preferences>Keys At the bottom of "Global Shortcut Keys" click "+", then type Cmd-W and leave the default Action "Ignore".

  • no need to manipulate global settings
  • no need to confirm conscious closing
  • This is the only effective solution for me on Mac OS 10.10
    – bitcycle
    May 26, 2015 at 14:47
  • Do you know how to add an alternative shortcut to close the window/tab then?
    – kuropan
    Apr 24 at 15:54
  • How about using Ctrl-D? Apr 24 at 21:44

A bit of an old question but in iTerm2 this helped me:

iTerm2Preferenceskeys → Add key mapping: "command + w" => ignore

  • 1
    Better than ignoring the useful command, you can undo the closing of the tab with <kbd>CMD</kbd>+<kbd>Z</kbd>.
    – b4d
    Feb 20, 2018 at 11:34

Goto Keyboard System Preferences and select "Keyboard Shortcuts". Then choose Application Shortcuts from the left and click +. Choose "Terminal.app" and enter a menu item that is not that critical. I chose "Bring All to Front". Then click into Keyboard Shortcut and hit CMD+W. Click OK.

Using this technique have have successfully redirected the CMD+W shortcut in Terminal.


For iterm, as @Shwaydogg mention:

For those using iTerm go to Prefrerences -> Profiles -> Session -> Prompt before closing!


Also worth mentioning BetterTouchTool (http://www.bettertouchtool.net/)

I wanted to have both W & C both perform Copy (muscle memory, don't ask). The native method only allows you one key per command, with BTT I was able to have both keys mapped to same command, while also avoid the undesired Close WIndow behaviour

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