For a long time I’ve wrestled with a number of different terminal apps and tools in the hope of improving my productivity at the command line. Initially I used iTerm2, a terminal emulator for macOS, as my preferred terminal app. Then I also started using tmux, a terminal multiplexer, on top of that. Then came along Vim, the open source text editor, and I started using that as well.
This was the first time in a long time that I had started using all three again. The benefit of using this combination of tools is that I could run both my command line and text editor within a single app and very rarely have to switch away from it.
One huge pain point I couldn’t get round though was the simple act of copying and pasting text between Vim and other apps. Despite a number of attempts to get it working I’ve decided to call it a day on this trio of tools.
- Vim is a great text editor, but to be honest I’m faster coding with Sublime Text or even Atom for that fact. Yes, I use the mouse and yes I want to have features and plugins that don’t require me to mess about with command line.
- tmux is great for managing different command line sessions within a single terminal emulator but I don’t think it’s a necessity. Lately I’ve been doing away with split panes and using multiple tabs.
- Which brings me to iTerm2. As great an application as it is, there’s nothing that it offers that I can’t get from Apple’s own terminal emulator, Terminal.
So I stopped using Vim, tmux and iTerm2 and fell back to using Terminal and Sublime Text.
I’ve went full circle from starting with the basics, adding more tools to the stack, before reducing the tools I need for the terminal right down to the absolute basics. One app for the terminal and one app for editing source code.
I can see the case for using tools like tmux and Vim. Maybe you spend most of your day in a terminal as a system administrator and you’re faster with Vim. Maybe you need to manage multiple servers on a daily basis so splitting panes in tmux suits your line of work. I get it. I understand why these tools exist and why you would use them.
Sometimes though scaling back is just as much a benefit.