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How to Create a Drop-Down Terminal in OS X

Depending on what you use your Mac for, you might spend a lot of time in the Terminal, so today we’re going to show you a way to create a terminal that drops down from the top of the screen like the old Quake console did.

Setting Up Your Drop-Down Terminal

You will first need to install SIMBL in order to install Visor, which is the application we’ll use to actually setup the drop-down terminal. SIMBL, which is short for “SIMple Bundle Loader”, is a program used to hack or patch existing apps to add more functionality and flexibility.

Once you have downloaded SIMBL, install it by just opening up the zip file, which includes the installer and uninstaller—you also might want to hang onto it in case you need to uninstall later.

Now that you have SIMBL installed, you will need to add the Visor plug-in package. Once you have downloaded and unpacked Visor, it will need to be placed in /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins.

Now you will need to launch or relaunch Terminal.

Now you will notice the Visor icon has added itself to the menu bar. If you click on it you can show Visor, pin it, open its preference pane, or visit the homepage of the project.

By default to launch Visor, the key command is ^ + ` (Control and Tilde) which if you used the console for Quake should somewhat be familiar.

In the Visor Preferences you can change how you active Visor—you can choose a key command or double tap control, you also have the option to Hide on pressing Escape, and opening Visor on the reopen of the Terminal.

In the next area of the pane, you can choose the position, animation and screens as well as what spaces that you will find Visor. In the last section you have the option to copy when you have selected text and if you want to have an option to show the icon in the status menu.

Overall Visor is a handy little tool if you need quick access to the Terminal and don’t need another window cluttering up your desktop.

Download SIMBL
Download Visor

Chris is a Mac geek who still knows his way around Linux and Windows. He's always looking for a good way to translate geek to english.

  • Published 09/17/10

Comments (4)

  1. Weston

    is there a way to hide the terminal icon?

  2. Weston

    from the Dock i mean

  3. Veovis

    I was wondering the same thing Weston, unfortunately, a Google search for “visor hide terminal” brought this up.

    I see no reason to have the Terminal in the Dock, all it does is take up space and show the blue “running” dot when there are no windows open, I’d prefer it didn’t do that. It reminds me that I am running a hacky workaround to get a QuakeTerm instead of just running a QuakeTerm.

  4. Peer

    Try using dockless.

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