I am specifically looking for is dynamic formatting of output. In every terminal emulator I can remember having used in Linux, when some program prints to the screen, the output gets formatted to fit to the terminal window so that longer lines will wrap around. If I then change the width of the window, the previous wrapped around formatting still remains.

On OSX, Terminal.app acts differently. The text is still formatted for the current size of window just as on Linux terminal emulators. However if I re-size the window, the text is automatically reformatted to match the new dimensions.

This is super useful when, after the running a utility, I realize that I didn't make the window wide enough to show all the output clearly. On an especially slow running utility, it can be frustrating to need to run everything all over again only to get better formatting. I could redirect the output to a program like less, view or gview. However this just feels like too much work to do every time I run a utility that might not format well with the current window dimensions. Also, as far as I know less doesn't support bash style text coloration.

Does anyone know of a Linux terminal emulator that has this behavior? It doesn't need to be out of the box behavior; I am willing to monkey with configuration settings to get something like this working. I have already poked around a number of terminal emulators on Linux to see if they support this, but I don't really have the time to try every single one of them. There are just too many! If truly no program exists that does this, is it because no one is trying to create this behavior? Is there some technical limitation on Linux in specific that does not allow this (don't see how this could be the case)?

  • 2
    Gnome terminal does this,
    – Braiam
    Aug 6, 2014 at 22:09
  • It would be very easy to make this a short question (and then you wouldn't need to apologize for anything). Just keep the third and forth paragraphs (removing the "Let me explain further..." bit. Finish off with the first line of the last paragraph.
    – drs
    Aug 6, 2014 at 22:15
  • @Braiam I haven't used Gnome terminal in a while. I have been on xfce (and thus xfce terminal) pretty much since gnome3 came out. I just installed gnome terminal. It doesn't act that way by default, but I will poke around in the settings for a bit.
    – eestrada
    Aug 7, 2014 at 0:12
  • @Braiam I have been looked through all the preferences I can find and I can't seem to find a way in gnome terminal to enable this. Any tips on how to get this working?
    – eestrada
    Aug 7, 2014 at 3:55
  • @eestrada To save you some time, I've checked Terminator, Konsole, and Xterm, and none of those do this. FWIW less does support colour with the -R flag, but you probably need to tell the previous command in the pipe to send colour. (e.g. ls -l | less fails, but ls -l --color=always| less -R works.) Finally, I know that less and vim dynamically word wrap with changing window sizes, so perhaps something like screen or tmux might do it.
    – Sparhawk
    Aug 7, 2014 at 5:00

1 Answer 1


After following a link in a comment from @Braiam in the question's comments, it seems I have found at least one alternative.

rxvt-unicode (sometimes called urxvt based on its utility name) has this feature. However, as a lightweight terminal for X, it seems to have relatively few default UI features compared to alternatives like Gnome terminal. Also, as an X utility, its appearance is generally boxy and doesn't fit into the default themes of most desktops environments such as gnome, kde, xfce, etc..

  • 1
    gnome-terminal has already supported this feature for more than a year now, and so does enlightenment's terminology.
    – egmont
    Apr 25, 2015 at 18:04

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