I'm a beginner and I recently started using my command line (I'm on macOS) for things like npm, git and ssh.

I read something about terminal profiles and when I just browse the website of iTerm2, I saw the image below. That really made me wonder what profiles are and if (and how) they offer advantages for SSH?

I'm really sorry if this is a really basic question, but I haven't found anything on Google yet. :)

Thanks a lot!

enter image description here

PS: other related question, what is a terminal emulator?

  • 1
    iTerm2 profiles are just a way to have groups of configuration items you want to apply, as such they are not related to ssh. You can however set up a start command in the profile, so that for example just opening a shell with that profile will run an ssh command to connect somewhere. Mar 19, 2021 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


I'll Answer your 2nd question first, what is a terminal emulator.

In the olden days a computer was the size of a couple of fridges and attached to the fridge was a console, this was mainly used by the operator. Users, would sit in front of what was known as a dumb-terminal, think TV with keyboard, these terminals were connected to the computer via a serial cable, they to the end of the cable, hence the name terminal. A train Terminus is at the end of the line.

Each terminal had a certain number of characteristics (line width, colour, number of lines, font size, function keys etc), and responded to certain codes that the program running on the computer would send it, these escaped-character sequences, eg ESC 2 J might clear the screen, the codes depended on the manufacturer of the terminal, Televideo, DEC (vt100 was a popular type).

The terminal program we use today, emulates the manufacturer's Terminals, and responds correctly to the escaped sequence of characters. (Escape-codes).

It gives us the same experience (albeit much faster) as the old terminals.

The software terminal, can have a number of profiles Orange text on a black background, or white on a dark green background, 43 lines of 80 characters, which you can select, so that you can flip the emulator size for the task at hand or even as a reminder (usually colours) to indicate something particular about what you are using that terminal for. A visual guide.

  • Thanks! So if I understand it correctly, it’s only visual and not about functionality?
    – ralphjsmit
    Mar 19, 2021 at 18:08
  • 1
    Not quite only visual, as @Patrick Mevzek mentioned in his comment above, you can set the default program to run in a terminal profile, and also whether it should start the shell as a login shell, which will have an affect on the session.
    – X Tian
    Mar 20, 2021 at 12:15

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