Monthly Archives: February 2016

iterm2 arrow keys not working in cursor application mode

By   February 3, 2016

(TL;DR at the bottom)

This is one of those things that irritated me for ages.  I generally don’t use arrow/home/end keys for anything except when I run (rarely) certain applications like ‘make menuconfig’ where I’m forced to navigate using arrow keys.

For the longest time, the arrow keys didn’t work on iterm2 in certain applications.  After digging in, I discovered the problem.

Ages ago, I started using OS-X, but sucked so I installed iterm.  Then iterm2 came out and I upgraded.  Sometime thereafter I discovered the arrow keys didn’t work.  This morning, I decided enough was enough and I got to the bottom of it.  One of the answers on this question posted a handy little script to test whether the keys work in cursor application mode:


sh -c "$(cat <<\EOF
noecho_appmode() {
  stty -echo
  printf '\033[?1h'
modes="$(stty -g)"
restore_echo_and_appmode() {
  stty "$modes"
  printf '\033[?1l'
printf '\nType <Up> <Down> <Right> <Left> <Control-D> <Control-D>\n'
printf '(no output until after the first <Control-D>, please type "blindly")\n\t'
noecho_appmode             ; trap 'restore_echo_and_appmode' 0
cat -v
restore_echo_and_appmode   ; trap ''                         0
printf '\nExpected:\n\t'
printf 'kcu%c1\n' u d f b | /usr/bin/tput -S | cat -v
printf '\n\n'

This told me that iterm2 wasn’t working correctly. But it obviously works for many other people.



When I upgraded from iterm to iterm2, my settings survived and Preferences->Profiles->Keys (NOT Preferences->Keys) contained overrides for the arrow keys and home/end.  Once I loaded a Preset for “xterm default”, exited iterm2 and restarted it, arrow keys worked fine.