The GNOME Terminal - Shell Scripting

As you would expect, the GNOME desktop project has its own terminal emulation program. TheGNOME Terminal software package has many of the same features as Konsole and xterm. This section walks through the various parts of configuring and using GNOME Terminal.

The command line parameters

The GNOME Terminal application also provides a wealth of command line parameters that allow you to control its behavior when starting it. Table below lists the parameters available.

The command line parameters

The GNOME Terminal command line parameters allow you to set lots of features automatically as GNOME Terminal starts. However, you can also set most of these features from within the GNOME Terminal window after it starts.


The GNOME Terminal calls each session a tab, as it uses tabs to keep track of multiple sessions running within the window. Figure below shows a GNOME Terminal window with three session tabs active.

The GNOME Terminal with three active sessions

You can right-click in the tab window to see the tab menu. This quick menu provides a few actions for your use in the tab session:

  • Open Terminal: Open a new GNOME Terminal window with a default tab session.
  • Open Tab: Open a new session tab in the existing GNOME Terminal window.
  • Close Tab: Close the current session tab.
  • Copy: Copy highlighted text in the current session tab to the clipboard.
  • Paste: Paste data in the clipboard into the current session tab at the current cursor location.
  • Change Profile: Change the profile for the current session tab.
  • Edit Current Profile: Edit the profile for the current session tab.
  • Show Menubar: Toggle whether the menubar is hidden or visible

The quick menu provides easy access to commonly used actions that are available from the standard menu bar in the terminal window.

The menu bar

The main operation of GNOME Terminal happens in the menu bar. The menu bar contains all of the configuration and customization options you’ll need to make your GNOME Terminal just the way you want it. The following sections describe the different items in the menu bar.

The menu bar


The File menu item contains items to create and manage the terminal tabs:

  • Open Terminal: Start a new shell session in a new GNOME Terminal window.
  • Open Tab: Start a new shell session on a new tab in the existing GNOME Terminal window.
  • New Profile. . .: Allows you to customize the tab session and save it as a profile which you can recall for use later.
  • Close Tab: Close the current tab in the window.
  • Close Window: Close the current GNOME Terminal session, closing all active tabs.

Most of the items in the File menu are also available by right-clicking in the session tab area. The New Profile entry allows you to customize your session tab settings and save them for future use.

The New Profile first requests that you provide a name for the new profile, then produces theEditing Profile dialog box, shown in Figure given below.

Figure: The GNOME Terminal Editing Profile dialog box

Figure: The GNOME Terminal Editing Profile dialog box

This is the area where you can set the terminal emulation features for the session. It consists of six areas:

  • General: Provides general settings such as font, the bell, and the menubar
  • Title and Command: Allows you to set the title for the session tab (displayed on the tab) and determine if the session starts with a special command rather than a shell
  • Colors: Sets the foreground and background colors used in the session tab
  • Effects: Allows you to set a background image for the session tab, or make it transparent so you can see the desktop through the session tab
  • Scrolling: Controls whether a scroll region is created, and how large
  • Compatibility: Allows you to set which control codes the Backspace and Delete keys send to the system.
    Once you configure a profile, you can specify it when opening new session tabs.


The Edit menu item contains items for handling text within the tabs. You can use your mouse to copy and paste texts anywhere within the tab window. This allows you to easily copy text from the command line output to a clipboard and import it into an editor. You can also paste text from another GNOME application into the tab session.

  • Copy: Copy selected text to the GNOME clipboard.
  • Paste: Paste text from the GNOME clipboard into the tab session.
  • Profiles. . : Add, delete, or modify profiles in the GNOME Terminal.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts. . .: Create key combinations to quickly access GNOME Terminal features.
  • Current Profile. . .: Provides a quick way to edit the profile used for the current session tab.

The profile-editing feature is an extremely powerful tool for customizing several profiles, and then changing profiles as you change sessions.


The View menu item contains items for controlling how the session tab windows appear. They include:

  • Show Menubar: Either shows or hides the menu bar
  • Full Screen: Enlarges the GNOME Terminal window to the entire desktop
  • Zoom In: Makes the font in the session windows larger2
  • Zoom Out: Makes the font in the session windows smaller
  • Normal Size: Returns the session font to the default size

If you hide the menubar, you can easily get it back by right-clicking in any session tab and toggling the Show Menubar item.


The Terminal menu item contains items for controlling the terminal emulation features of the tab session. They include:

  • Change Profile: Allows you to switch to another configured profile in the session tab.
  • Set Title. . .: Sets the title on the session tab to easily identify it.
  • Set Character Encoding: Selects the character set used to send and display characters.
  • Reset: Sends the reset control code to the Linux system.
  • Reset and Clear: Sends the reset control code to the Linux system and clears any text currently showing in the tab area.

The character encoding offers a large list of available character sets to choose from. This is especially handy if you must work in a language other than English.


The Tabs menu item provides items for controlling the location of the tabs and selecting which tab is active.

  • Previous Tab: Make the previous tab in the list active.
  • Next Tab: Make the next tab in the list active.
  • Move Tab to the Left: Shuffle the current tab in front of the previous tab.
  • Move Tab to the Right: Shuffle the current tab in front of the next tab.
  • Detach Tab: Remove the tab and start a new GNOME Terminal window using this tab session.
  • The Tab list: Lists the currently running session tabs in the terminal window. Select a tab to quickly jump to that session.

This section allows you to manage your tabs, which can come in handy if you have several tabs open at once.

The Help menu item provides a full GNOME Terminal manual so that you can research individual items and features used in the GNOME Terminal.

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