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Create customized new terminal windows UNIX
Since I installed OS X, I've wanted to be able to pop up Terminal windows that have a specified title and are running a specified application. I'm about 90% there, and thought I'd share what I've written with the MacOSXhints gang.

Note that this is a Unix shell script that you'll want to copy onto your system, save with some name ('newterm'), then use chmod +x newterm or similar to ensure that it's executable.

Then you can start up a new Terminal window with the title "my terminal" and the core shell of /usr/bin/vi (for example), with:
newterm "Edit Window" "/usr/bin/vi"
Pretty cool, eh?

Read the rest of the article for the "new term" shell script.


# NEWTERM - launch a new window with the specified
# command as the default to execute upon launch. This
# also changes the TITLE of the window to be the command
# or the specified title if that parameter is specified.
# Released into the Public Domain by Dave Taylor (


# step zero: do we have meaningful starting parameters?

if [ $# -ne 2 ] ; then
echo "Usage: `basename $0`: title app"
exit 0


if [ "$newshell" = "" ] ; then
newshell='""' # make sure that there's a no-value string value!

# step one, let's get and save the existing configuration

oldtitle="`defaults read $termname | grep CustomTitle | cut -d= -f2 | sed 's/; //;s/^ //'`"
oldshell="`defaults read $termname | grep 'Shell ' | cut -d= -f2 | sed 's/; //;s/^ //'`"

# step two: change the settings temporarily

defaults write $termname CustomTitle "$newtitle"
defaults write $termname Shell "$newshell"

# and launch the new Terminal as requested by the user

$terminal &

# step three: reset the values to their defaults
# but, we need to leave them intact while the Terminal app
# actually starts up, so we'll drop the reset into a background
# subshell and have it sleep for 5 seconds before resetting.
# * Note that this means you should NOT run multiple NEWTERM
# * processes without at least a 5 second pause between them

sleep 5
defaults write $termname CustomTitle "$oldtitle"
defaults write $termname Shell $oldshell
) &

# and we're done. Way cool.

exit 0
I've been trying to get it to work so that you can specify an arbitrary command (for example "vi test.c") but that requires creating a temporary startup script and pointing Terminal to that script, which works fine except I don't like how it exits. Stay tuned, though, I'll crack this code yet! [of course, documentation would be nice!]
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Create customized new terminal windows | 3 comments | Create New Account
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How to do arbitrary commands
Authored by: _merlin on Dec 23, '01 03:01:16PM
Here's a little script that will take the same syntax and let you use an arbitrary command. Gotta love osascript ;-)
#! /bin/sh

if [ $# -le 1 ] ; then
echo "Usage: `basename $0` title command"
exit 0

printf "%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n%s\n" \
"set the WindowTitle to \"$1\"" \
"set the CommandLine to \"$2\"" \
"" \
"set the CommandLine to the CommandLine & \" ; exit\"" \
"tell application \"Terminal\"" \
" do script with command the CommandLine" \
" get windows" \
" set the TerminalWindows to the result" \
" repeat with i from 1 to the count of the TerminalWindows" \
" set the CurrentWindow to item i of the TerminalWindows" \
" if the name of the CurrentWindow is equal to the CommandLine then" \
" set the custom title of the CurrentWindow to the WindowTitle" \
" end if" \
" end repeat" \
"end tell" \
| osascript

[ Reply to This | # ]
Posted working version of this script
Authored by: evands on Dec 24, '01 01:23:34AM

is available from my iDisk at:

Just spent a while figuring out what had gotten messed up in the posting and decided to share with anyone who wants...

[ Reply to This | # ]
Corrected original...
Authored by: robg on Dec 25, '01 09:27:15AM

I believe I have now corrected the original posted version, so it should work with a copy and paste.


[ Reply to This | # ]