What is dquote in Mac Terminal?

If you work from the command line in Mac Terminal, you may have seen dquote prompt at one time or another. Whether you’re copying and pasting a command or just typing the command, it can be frustrating and many are not sure what to do with it or what it is.

The dquote prompt in Mac Terminal simply tells you that you have hit the return key and you still have an open quote in the command that you have entered. Mac Terminal gives you the dquote prompt and expects you to enter more text or close the command with a quotation mark.

My name is Eric and as a software engineer, I use Mac Terminal frequently and I often run into the dquote prompt. It not only happens by mistake but I also use it on purpose sometimes. I can show you how to fix the problem if this is from a mistake and I can also show you how to use it to your advantage.

Keep reading below if you would like to find out how to get out of the dquote prompt on your Mac Terminal screen. I will also cover how you can purposely use the dquote prompt to make things easier when you are typing long lines of text or need some formatting in your text.

The dquote Prompt

If you are seeing dquote on your Mac Terminal screen, you are seeing the dquote prompt as shown below.


A prompt on the command line is a signal that Mac Terminal is waiting for you to enter information, text, or a command. The dquote prompt is telling you that Mac Terminal needs you to either enter more text or another quotation mark to end the quote.

This can happen by mistake or on purpose. As you can see in the image above, the echo “Hello command has no closing quote, so the dquote prompt is waiting for me to either enter more text or a closing quote to end the command.

You might see the dquote prompt by mistake if you type in a command and forget to enter the ending quotation mark. This can also happen if you copy and paste a command that has either left out the ending quotation mark or when you copied the command you may not have selected the ending quotation mark before copying.

In either case, it’s very easy to get out of the dquote prompt and we will cover this in more detail in the next section. I also mentioned that you may purposely see the dquote prompt and we will take a look at that after the next section.

Exiting the dquote Prompt

If you have gotten into the dquote prompt by mistake and are unfamiliar with it, you may be struggling to get out of it. You’ve probably noticed that hitting your return key does not do any good. 

There are two ways to get out of it and which one you should use depends on if you want the command to execute or if you want to cancel the command. 

Execute the Command

If you want the command to go ahead and execute, then you will need to finish the command. You will need to enter a closing quote and any other part of the command that is missing. If you are copying and pasting the command, go back to the source where you copied it and make sure you have the complete command.

If you do not have the complete command, find out where the command left off, copy the remaining part and then paste it at the dquote prompt. Once you have the complete command, hit the return key and the command will execute.

Quit the Command

If you’re unsure what is missing from the command or you just don’t think the command is correct, you might be better off to abort the command. After all, you don’t want to cause an issue by running a command incorrectly.

If this is the case, it’s very easy to just end the command without executing it and this will get you out of the dquote prompt. All you need to do is press the Control and C keys at the same time.

This will abort the command and you will be back to your normal Mac Terminal command prompt.

Using dquote for Multi-line Commands

You might find the dquote prompt annoying or frustrating, especially if you are getting it by mistake, but dquote is actually a feature of Mac Terminal and UNIX/LINUX style commands. There are times when you may need to enter a command on multiple lines.

If you are putting text into a quote for an echo command to direct it to a file, or for a specific command you may want or need to have some formatting to the text in the quote such as having text on multiple lines. Using the dquote prompt you can do this. 

For example, you could type the following command to echo each line of text on a new line.

  • echo “Hello
  • dquote> What is your name?
  • dquote> How old are you?
  • dquote> What is your favorite color?”

As you can see, the dquote prompt allows you to enter multiple lines of text in one command.


Below are a few questions that often come up when discussing the dquote prompt and how to deal with it.

Why does my Mac Terminal just show a > and not dquote>?

Not all terminal shells put the word dquote in front of the prompt. Mac Terminal’s default shell, which is Zshell, does use the word dquote but others may just put the > character. This is the same thing as dquote> and both of them work the same way, just that > does not have the word dquote in front of it.

Why is it called dquote?

This is a great question and I have not yet found an answer. My guess would be that it is telling you that you will need to end the quote or de-quote the quotation. I’m Not sure if this is correct so if anyone else knows, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

What is the most common situation that causes the dquote prompt to appear?

I find that the dquote prompt comes up most commonly in situations where I am copying and pasting a command into the window. Either the original command is incorrect or when I go to copy the text of the command I don’t get the entire command copied into my buffer and the ending or trailing quotation mark has not been copied and pasted


If you see dquote in your Mac Terminal window, it is a prompt that means you need to enter more information and close the quotation so that the command can be completed. It often comes from incorrectly typing or pasting a command but the dquote feature can also be used when you want to enter multi-line strings of text.

I hope the information above has helped you to understand the dquote feature of Mac Terminal. As usual, let me know if you have questions or comments. I would love to have your feedback.

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