Open iTerm (OS X) to a Directory from R

August 20, 2014

(This article was first published on Data Driven Security, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Sometimes you need to get to a command prompt from R, whether it’s to wrangle git on the command line or do some package work. RStudio provides ways to do this from menus and hotkeys, but on OS X it sticks you in I’m an iTerm user—and, I really prefer being in that app vs the one Apple ships—so, I wrote a tiny function that will drop you into either the current working directory or a path you specify.

iterm <- function(directory=getwd()) {

  system(paste("osascript -e 'activate application "iTerm"' ",
               " -e 'tell application "System Events" to keystroke "t" using command down' ",
               sprintf(" -e 'tell application "iTerm" to tell session -1 of current terminal to write text "cd %s"'", directory)))


It issues a three line AppleScript telling iTerm to

  • activate (or launch)
  • open a new tab
  • cd to the desired location

Nothing earth shattering, but it saves a few mouse clicks and keystrokes and keeps me in the app I want to be in. It should be pretty straightforward to modify this for other operating systems.

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