Blog Post

A Look at Visor

If you grew up working on a Unix machine like I did, working in isn’t just a walk down memory lane, it’s more productive. While of my everyday computing happens within Terminal, be it server maintenance, MySQL, or file manipulation, using Alt-Tab or Expose to constantly switch back to the Terminal becomes cumbersome when you have more than a few windows open.

That’s where Visor comes to save the day. Visor, written by the same genius behind Quicksilver, creates a Quake-esque console window that is available via a hotkey combination of your choice. Of course, since the Quicksilver team has yet to put out a piece of software that isn’t visually incredible, Visor doesn’t disappoint from the aesthetic frame of mind either.


There’s a quick installation how-to at the official Visor site. Once you have it installed, you can edit the Visor preferences and set your own hotkey (I use Shift-Cmd-Space).

One of the nice things about Visor is that it maintains all of Terminal’s drag and drop support, so next time you’re browsing OSX Hints and find some code you’d like to run, you can select it, drag it, trigger Visor, and drop. Sweet, sweet simplicity.

I’ve been using Visor for about a month, and I’m pretty happy with the way it has seamlessly integrated the Terminal into my daily computing. Still, there are a few aspects I’d like to see improved. First, in order for Visor to work you have to have running. You don’t have to have an open shell, but it’d be nice to have Visor run independent of the official console. Second, it requires SIMBL, which may make it a bit intimidating to the less-than-avid user. It would be nice if it were a standalone piece of software and not a SIMBL plugin.

You can learn a bit more about Visor by browsing the Ars Technica thread that inspired it.

17 Responses to “A Look at Visor”

  1. Ashwinkumar B V


    I installed SIMBL, copied visor to the plugins folder and restarted terminal(even the computer!!!). But for some strange reason it doesn’t appear in the menu. Can somebody help. Thanks in advance.

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  3. I use Visor, and I think it’s fantastic.

    For those using this, note that in the ~/library/preferences/ file there is a “VisorTerminal” subsection where you can set terminal window preferences that are different than your normal terminal window prefs.

    The ArsTechnica forum thread is really worth looking at too. Until I read it, I didn’t know you could disable the scrollbar on the scrollback feature while still having the history be there. Also, if you run a persistent Terminal instance on login to use with Visor, it is nice to disable the “initial terminal window” that pops up on launch. Great great tips doled out by the developers themselves.

  4. Hmm I’m giving this a try again (I used an older version, can’t hurt to give it another shot) but I can’t seem to change the height without screwing everything up.

    It always adds 1 to the height everytime you open terminal (up until it’s 50% of the screen, a horrific sight on my 20″ cinema) and if you try to make a certain size the default (like 20 rows or something) then your regular terminal windows will be the size of the visor, not to mention open starting at the top of the screen right UNDER where the visor will go!

    Very odd. I think I’ll stick with my one-extra-keystroke method except for show-off purposes :p

  5. Yeah, it’s definitely an eye-candy sort of trick, but also useful if you need to copy code from another application.

    Of course, you’re right. You could just use Quicksilver to bring Terminal back to the front, but that just doesn’t feel as cool…

  6. I’ve tried this but quite honestly I find I’m always running the terminal anyways, so I just type:

     SPC -> launchbar appears ready to take orders
    T, E -> makes terminal appear

    not only that but if i’m using it a lot for a few minutes i just hit  spc and then enter to bring up terminal instantly since it’s the last thing launchbar did for me.

    This is a cool trick to make xp using friends even more jealous though :)