I can't find any way to change the Terminal theme and have that theme applied permanently.

I want to change to another darker theme other than the default 'basic' theme, and (most importantly) have it remain as the theme every time I open Terminal.

5 Answers 5


You need to select which profile you want to be your default in the preferences for the Terminal application. Here is a way you do that:

  1. Open the Terminal.app

  2. Select "Terminal" Menu then "Preferences..."

  3. Select the "Profiles" tab (labelled "Settings" before Yosemite)

  4. Click and highlight a theme listed under Profiles.

  5. Press the "Default" button near the bottom of the window.

  6. Open a new Terminal window, it should now have the theme that you selected as the new default.

Note: Existing terminal windows will not change to the newly selected default theme, you will need to close and re-open terminal windows to get the theme to be applied.

OS X Terminal Settings for color themes

  • 3
    Instead of "Settings" tab, its called "Profiles" tab in Yosemite OS. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 14:53
  • 2
    I've been having this problem for a year. Finally got pissed enough to google it. Thanks!
    – Esqarrouth
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 22:16
  • 1
    Is there a way to change the profile of an already existing window? Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 3:05
  • 1
    "Click on Default" - I wasn't doing that! thanks for the answer! Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 17:52
  • U saved my time.
    – Nagaraj
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 5:36

Terminal -> Preferences -> Settings -> Click desired Profile -> Click "Default" at the bottom of the frame.

I would also suggest iTerm2 over Terminal.app


Per the Preferences image in the Question - to set the default view, that's all correct.

BUT - to set the initial / startup view i.e; the first Terminal window that comes up, you have to set that in the Startup settings (first tab in preferences window).

What you put in the Startup tab will show when you first launch Terminal.

What you set as the Default theme will be any additional windows that you open after.


The "Terminal" -> "Preferences" menu opens up the settings. You can add or modify different types of windows, and, choose your favorite one as the default with the button at the bottom left of the settings window.


Note you cannot set the 'On start up, use' profile to be the default.

You need to set 'On start up...' to a profile other than the one you want to be default (or leave it on basic). Then go to the profiles tab and select a new default profile.

Once the new default is set you can go back to the general tab and set your new default to be the 'On start up...' profile as well.

A minor but important point. Especially as the preferences for 'On start up, use' and 'New windows open with: Same Profile' seem to make setting a new default unnecessary.

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