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The charm of dropdown terminals and how to configure iTerm2 on Mac.

In this article, we will explore the charm of dropdown terminals and how to configure iTerm2's dropdown mode on the Mac operating system.


In my sophomore year, I found the xfce desktop environment of Manjaro unattractive. Coincidentally, the rolling update broke the system, so I switched to the KDE desktop environment of Manjaro. From that moment on, I formed an inseparable bond with Yakuake, a dropdown terminal. This elegant tool deeply impressed me and I couldn't live without a dropdown terminal anymore.

Why is it elegant? - Principles and advantages#

A dropdown terminal, like Yakuake, is a terminal emulator that slides down from the top of the screen. It can be quickly summoned with a simple shortcut key, providing users with convenient command-line access.


The design concept of a dropdown terminal is simple and efficient. By triggering a global shortcut key (I directly used F1), the terminal smoothly slides down from the top of the screen with an animated effect, presenting an interactive command-line interface to the user. Pressing the shortcut key again, the terminal gracefully slides back and does not occupy screen space. This design brings many advantages:

  • Instant availability: Regardless of the current task, simply press the shortcut key to immediately summon the terminal without interrupting the workflow.
  • Space-saving: Unlike traditional terminal windows, the dropdown terminal only appears when needed and does not occupy screen space for a long time, without interfering with the display of other applications.
  • Improved efficiency: No need to switch windows frequently, saving time and energy, especially suitable for users who frequently use the terminal. The important thing is that your fingers never have to leave the keyboard. That's efficiency.

How to configure? - How to configure iTerm2's dropdown mode on Mac#

Although Yakuake is mainly targeted at the KDE environment, similar tools exist in other operating systems. For example, on the Mac operating system, iTerm2 is a popular terminal emulator that also has dropdown terminal functionality (called Hotkey windows). Here are the brief steps to configure iTerm2:

  1. Download and install iTerm2:
    Downloads - iTerm2 - macOS Terminal Replacement
  2. Open iTerm2 and click on the menu iTerm2 > Settings.
  3. In the Settings window, select the Keys tab > Create a Dedicated Hotkey Window
  4. After clicking on Hotkey, record the shortcut key and click ok (I use the aggressive F1)
  5. In the new Profile, you can set appearance, colors, fonts, and other personalization options. (Select "Screen with Cursor" in the Screen section to open the terminal with the cursor)
  6. After configuration, you can use the set shortcut key to summon and hide the dropdown terminal.

Historical Origins#

Yakuake's initial design inspiration came from the dropdown console in the game Quake. This feature in the Quake game allows players to open a terminal-like interface to enter commands. Yakuake introduced this concept into the desktop environment, providing users with a more efficient and convenient way to use the terminal.

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