I can never get a concrete reason why to use these over Spotlight/Terminal.app. There used to be a significant difference, but today I can’t think of a compelling reason.
Edit: Ditto for flu.x
Personally, I couldn’t let go of having shortcuts to switch to the nth tab. Thus, iTerm beat Terminal for me.
I use Alfred primarily for various workflows that I have set up. That’s not something that can replicated with spotlight.
I have a few smaller ones that I’ve designed myself.
I use the Github Repos Workflow constantly: http://www.packal.org/workflow/github-repos
I happily used Spotlight for years. Then, a couple OSX updates back, it stopped properly indexing applications. I never was able to fully figure out what the problem was, as there was seemingly no pattern to which applications would be excluded. At one point it stopped including Chrome in the index, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. (More specifically, I believe it still included them in the index based on testing the command line interface, but Spotlight simply stopped showing them.)
I switched to Alfred, and it immediately worked “perfectly” - which is to say it performed identically to how Spotlight did before the updates. It’s been a few months now, and I have no complaints with Alfred, it does everything Spotlight did, and is much faster.
Weird! In your position I think I would have done the same thing.
I have the same problem and switched to Alfred for the same reason.
iTerm is waaaaaaaay ahead of Terminal.app.
I keep getting replies like this, but still no concrete reason.
I think it’s because there aren’t great reasons anymore. Yes, you’ve got some tmux integration and similar I guess, but e.g. tmux support requires (or at least used to require) custom-built versions of tmux that kept it from being as useful in practice as you might think. Meanwhile, Terminal itself has added tons of features that used to be iTerm-only and added some of its own (e.g. window groups), and while there’s some comments below that iTerm has smoother scroll, I have noticed that using Terminal can actually speed up programs I run if I’ve got them dumping directly to stdout (because it can get stuff on the screen faster).
I used iTerm for many years, but I’m also back to Terminal. Ditto for Alfred, similar reasons.
Terminal.app has added
The difference between iTerm and Terminal.app is becoming more superficial. At this point the largest difference is the degree of customization, and people who care about this seem to be more evangelical about it.
That being said I still use iTerm for two reasons.
Only things missing from Terminal.app are:
smoother scroll, true color support, greater tmux integration, splits.
On the other hand I think Terminal.app has the edge with better font rendering and slightly smoother performance (latest Beta version of iTerm2 is much much better in that regard, but Terminal.app has still edge on that front, but it’s locked on 30fps, so it’s not that much greater in the end).
Btw I’m still using Terminal.app because I found it much more stable, and I’ve stopped using tmux for terminal splitting and tiling. Now I use Tmux mostly for attaching and detaching and security reasons, as tmux increases input latency which I cannot stand!
And most important of all is that I didn’t want to become addicted/attached to my personal dev environment. I have been through customization hell with Emacs and Vim, now I am back to really minimal 200 Loc configs in both, using mostly stock stuff on macOS, and some universal UNIX programs. I have around 10 applications installed on my macOS, rest is stock Apple stuff and it works really well!
What phl said :-) also, better splitting. Better full screen mode.
I recently tried switching back to Terminal.app, but couldn’t get the colour schemes to show correctly. Terminal does something to the colours to add more contrast, and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/29487/is-it-possible-to-disable-terminals-automatic-tweaking-of-colors-in-lion
To be fair to flu.x, that’s a relatively recent addition, and still allows a lot more control (at least on macOS) over the timing, degree, and transition curve to red-shifted light. The rest, I’m with you.
To be even fairer, it’s “f.lux”, not “flu.x” ;)