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Disable the System Bell in iTerm

Spend enough time in a terminal session and eventually the system “bell” will drive you nuts. I honestly don’t remember it being this much of an issue on my old Macbook Pro, but it’s been maddening since I got my new one a few weeks ago. Because of its bookmarks feature, iTerm is my emulator of choice and there’s nothing in its preferences (I’m using Build 0.9.6.20090415) that even acknowledges a system bell exists, much less allows me to disable it. I did a clean install when I got my new machine, so maybe this is a recent change. I haven’t looked at the release history to determine why it’s not there, I can only be sure that it’s not.

In a fit of desperation this morning, I decided to scour the plist file to see if there was anything I could do at a slightly lower level to quiet my terminal sessions. Fortunately, I found an answer:

  1. Navigate to ~/Library/Preferences.
  2. Open net.sourceforge.iTerm.plist in your favorite plist file editor. I use Property List Editor.app because I have XCode installed and the app is available to me. There are other plist editors out there or you can just open the file in a text editor – it’s just an XML file with a fancy extension.
  3. Navigate the XML nodes (different editors may offer different means of drilling down) to Root > Terminals > Default > Silence Bell
  4. Click the checkbox to enable that property.
  5. Save the change.
  6. Restart iTerm.

Enjoy the silence.