GNOME Terminal tricks and tips

Jack Wallen
Feb 25, 2011
Updated • Dec 5, 2012

Do you use the terminal in Linux? If you use Linux long enough you will. And chances are, if you are using the terminal in Linux, you are using either the GNOME terminal or KDE's konsole. Each has their pros and cons and each has a lot of tricks tucked up inside their sleeves.

I have covered the gnome-terminal in a few ways (see my articles "Make gnome-terminal profiles work for you" and "Get to know Linux: gnome-terminal".) These articles either is an introduction or deals with a specific aspect of the tool. This time around, I want to highlight a few different tips and tricks that can help to make gnome-terminal even more useful and user-friendly.

Change that title

When you open up gnome-terminal you usually will see the hostname and the current working directory. Sometimes this just isn't much help. This is especially true when you have more than one terminal window open and you want to make sure you know which terminal you are working in. You can change this by clicking Terminal > Set Title. After you click this a small window will open where you can type the new terminal title. Once you save that title your gnome-terminal will display the configured title until you close and re-open the tool (upon reopening the title will revert to the default.)

Search the contents of an open file

The gnome-terminal tool includes it's own search feature. With an open file you can search that file with a string by clicking Search a new window will appear where you can enter the conditions for your search. Those conditions are:

  • Search for: This is the string you want to search for in your file.
  • Mach case.
  • Match entire word only.
  • Match as regular expression.
  • Search backwards.
  • Wrap around.

This is a great way to help you work with larger configuration files such as smb.conf or httpd.conf.

Zoom in/out

There are reasons for zoom in and out. The biggest reason is accessibility. For those with vision impairments, zooming into the terminal window is a quick way to make the text in terminal large enough to see. To zoom use the following key combinations:

  • Zoom in: Ctrl++
  • Zoom out: Ctrl--

If you have trouble with the key combinations, click View > Zoom In or View > Zoom Out to control the zoom.

Switch dimensions

I'm not talking about switching from 2D to 3D (or d20). I'm talking about the size of your terminal. There are four pre-configured sizes you can easily switch to (for different usage.) If you click the Terminal menu entry you will see, near the bottom of the menu:

  • 80x24
  • 80x43
  • 132x24
  • 132x43

You can easily switch to one of those sizes by clicking on the size you want. When you open the terminal, it will open back to the default size.

Final thoughts

There you have just a fraction of the tips and tricks that can be pulled off with gnome-terminal. There are plenty more where that come from and we will re-visit this topic. Until then, enjoy the CLI!



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