When comparing MacVim vs iTerm2, the Slant community recommends iTerm2 for most people. In the question“What are the best power user tools for macOS?” iTerm2 is ranked 1st while MacVim is ranked 26th. The most important reason people chose iTerm2 is:
iTerm has autocomplete features built in. It remembers your past commands and when you are writing something on the terminal, simply pressing `Control-;` it will show you a drop down menu of suggestions from which to choose.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Lots of plugins
Every plugin available for Vim is available for MacVim too.
Pro Extremely customizable
MacVim is Vim, meaning it has all of Vim's customizability and power.
Pro OS X input methods
MacVim supports OSX's native shortcuts making the adoption of Vim easier.
Pro Extensive community support
MacVim, like Vim itself has a large community backing it.
Pro Automatic font substitution
In cases of a selected font missing certain characters, MacVim will find a font that has that character.
Pro Vimtutor teaches the basics of Vim in 30 minutes
Vimtutor is an excellent interactive tutorial for people with no prior experience of Vim. It's bundled with Vim and takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Pro Everything is a mnemonic
Vim associates keys with words. For example,
d is for "delete" and
w is for "word". To perform an action you string together letters. Thus, to delete a word, press dw.
This way it's possible to abstract a large amount of functionality that Vim provides in an intuitive way.
Pro Enables effective keyboard-driven editing due to its modal nature
Interaction with Vim is centered around several modes. Each mode has a different purpose and switching between them changes behaviour and keybindings. There are 12 modes in total (six basic modes and six variations on basic modes) and four of them are used commonly.
Insert mode is for entering text. This mode most resembles traditional text entry in most editors.
Normal mode (the default) is entered by hitting ESC and converts all keybindings to center around movement within the file, search, pane selection, etc.
Command mode is entered by hitting ":" in Normal mode and allows you to execute Vim commands and scripts similar in fashion to a shell.
Visual mode is for selecting lines, blocks, and characters of code.
Modes allow separating concerns between various tasks and reusing keys for different kinds of functionality. As a result, the workflow becomes more efficient.
Pro Multi-byte support
Permits writing characters that don't fit in one byte, most notably logograms (for writing in languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean) and Unicode characters.
Pro Autocomplete is built-in
iTerm has autocomplete features built in. It remembers your past commands and when you are writing something on the terminal, simply pressing
Control-; it will show you a drop down menu of suggestions from which to choose.
Pro Extremely customizable
Other than being able to customize the various shortcuts, iTerm2 also lets you customize the colorscheme, font, transparency, etc.
Pro Complete out of the box
Unlike most terminal emulators, iTerm2 comes with a pretty complete set of features. It has built-in search, autocompletion, tabbed navigation, Growl support and even a built-in clipboard manager for various API keys and such.
Pro Fine tuning for fonts
It's possible to choose a font and adjust vertical and horizontal spacing.
Pro Can immediately open files inside a text editor
You can Ctrl+Click on a file path to open said file in a text editor.
Pro Supports mouse actions
Has support for mouse actions like clicking, dragging, selecting, etc.
Pro Active maintainers
Issues resolved fast by quality contributors.
Pro Works well with powerline fonts
Pro Split panes
Easy to split panes to either horizontal or vertical sections. Makes it easy to observe multiple console windows.
Pro Completely free and open source
iTerm2 is completely free and open source. It's released under the GPLv2 license.
Pro Any key can be mapped to any function
Using the Preferences Menu you can set up hotkeys to map virtually any action you can think of to a single key or a combination of them. This is extremely helpful as it allows you to use shortcuts to edit commands you are typing in the terminal and while most terminal emulators have shortcuts for this sort of thing, few of them let you define your own.
Pro Cmd+D to split plane vertically
Very handy to use multi-tab.
Pro Can be configured as a drop-down terminal
Can be configured to work as a drop down terminal like Quake.
Pro Works well with tmux
The great mouse and clipboard support that are built-in go really well with tmux.
Pro Supported by many applications as a terminal app selection
If an application has terminal integration, there is high probability it allows iTerm2 to be selected.
Pro You only need to type in commands once
iTerm2 can store up to 4M of history of commands you already used. This, coupled with the built-in search features makes it possible to type a command only once and then search for it through the history for subsequent uses.
Pro Cmd+Shift+I to Input all
Wanna SSH your server from multiple tabs, here you go.
Con Difficult learning curve
MacVim after all is still Vim, and with that comes the complexity that Vim brings and the difficult learning curve that needs to be overcome.
Con Slow when opening files with very long lines
A lot of very long lines can make MacVim take up to a minute to open, where a few other editors take only a few seconds to load the same file.
Con Not quite as fast as Alacritty or Kitty
Comparing these 3 terminals on the same machine/config, iTerm stands out as the slowest of the bunch. The difference may not be noticeable to all users.
Con Doesn't support Snow Leopard 10.6.8
Some people still use SL.