Archives For mac

If  you find your wi-fi network is getting slow, there may be interference from another network. If another Wi-Fi network nearby uses the same channel, or even a close channel, the two networks will collide, reducing speed for everyone. Here are some tips about how to troubleshoot Wi-fi… (more…)

I’ve covered the ‘history’ command before, but here are two more useful Mac OS X Terminal commands…

I’ve been using the Ctrl+ R trick (Hit Ctrl + R, start typing part of the command you want. If you don’t like the first suggestion hit Ctrl + R again to show the next one). This is really handy and fast and it will return matches from the middle of the string.

And I just found another great Terminal command here: Discover the last used command beginning with anything without executing it… this one is a bit harder to use:


…where [needle] is the first character(s) of the command you’re looking for. It’s not as flexible because it only shows the most recent match instead of cycling through the results, but could still come in handy.

Here are a bunch of Mac terminal commands sorted into general categories. I have intentionally omitted long bash scripts and AppleScripts and focussed instead on small useful commands that can be plugged into bigger scripts or used on their own… enjoy!

Terminal & Shell Basics

cmd+n – Open a new Shell in a new window
cmd+t – Open a new Shell in a new tab of the current window
control+d – Logout the Shell in the current tab / window
cmd+d – Split pane. this is not a new shell, just a way of displaying the current Shell.


Restart Mac OS X:

sudo shutdown -r now

Shutdown Mac OS X:

sudo shutdown now

Power Management / Energy Saving

Get overview of current Power Management Settings:

pmset -g

Put display to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity:

sudo pmset displaysleep 15

Put Computer to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity:

sudo pmset sleep 30

…Also see my post about hibernate mode and Safe Sleep on the Mac

OS X Look and Feel

Permanently disable Dock icon bouncing

If you don’t like the way Mountain Lion now makes the User ‘Library’ folder invisible, you can disable this.

chflags nohidden ~/Library

…you don’t need to relaunch the Finder.

Disable Dashboard (don’t forget to drag the Dashboard Dock icon off the Dock too):

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES
killall Dock

Enable Dashboard:

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean NO
killall Dock

Force the Finder to show hidden files (very useful for Web Developers who need to edit .htaccess files, for example):

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Force the Finder to hide hidden files (ie: back to the default setting):

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles FALSE


Ping a host to see whether it’s available:

ping -o

Troubleshoot routing problems to a host using traceroute:


Check whether a host is running an HTTP server (ie: check that a Web Site is available):

curl -I | head -n 1

Automatically enable Internet Sharing at startup

Manage Windows networks (a drop-in for the NET command on Windows). Too many options to list here, so run this for details:

man net

Use dig to discover Domain information:

dig A
dig MX

…and you can also retrieve all available stuff in the DNS Zone for a domain with eg:

dig -t ANY

Who is logged in to your Mac?


What’s my user name? This is really useful for bash scripts etc.


Show routing table:

netstat -r

Show active network connections:

netstat -an

Show network statistics:

netstat -s


List all open files (this will take a few seconds to complete on most Macs):


Restart Bonjour – handy when a Mac ‘disappears’ from the Network:

sudo launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
sudo launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

Eject a CD… it’s never happened to me but you can eject a stuck cd with the following. Note that it won’t always be ‘disk1’:

diskutil eject disk1

Text Manipulation terminal commands

Sometimes you need to take some text from the clipboard or a file, transform it somehow and then use it. Here are a bunch of mac terminal commands that do text manipulation. I’ve assumed you want to transform text from the clipboard and back again; see the notes at the end of the article for info on how to write to and from files instead.

Count number of lines in the text in the Clipboard:

pbpaste | wc -l

Count number of words in the text in the Clipboard:

pbpaste | wc -w

Sort lines of text in the Clipboard and copy them back to the Clipboard:

pbpaste | sort | pbcopy

Reverse each line of text in the Clipboard (ie: make each line appear backwards) and copy them back to the Clipboard:

pbpaste | rev | pbcopy

Strip duplicate lines from lines of text in the Clipboard and copy only one instance of each duplicate line back to the Clipboard (output is sorted):

pbpaste | sort | uniq | pbcopy

Find duplicate lines from lines of text in the Clipboard and copy only one instance of each duplicate line (stripping non-duplicates) back to the Clipboard (output is sorted):

pbpaste | sort | uniq -d | pbcopy

Strip duplicate lines from lines of text in the Clipboard and copy only one instance of each line (stripping duplicates entirely) back to the Clipboard (output is sorted):

pbpaste | sort | uniq -u | pbcopy

Tidy up HTML in the Clipboard and copy it back to the Clipboard:

pbpaste | tidy | pbcopy

Display the first 5 lines from the Clipboard:

pbpaste | head -n 5

Display the last 5 lines from the Clipboard:

pbpaste | tail -n 5

Convert tabs to spaces for the lines in the Clipboard:

pbpaste | expand | pbcopy

Other useful commands

Password protect your web site! Create a CRYPTed user/password for using in a .htpasswd file. Save the outputted results of A below to a file called .htpasswd in the directory you want to secure. Then save the contents of B to a file called .htaccess in the same folder.


htpasswd -nb username password


AuthType Basic
AuthName "restricted area"
AuthUserFile /path/to/your/site/.htpasswd
require valid-user

Display a history of commands used in the terminal by the current user:


Convert a file to HTML. Support formats are Text, .RTF, .DOC.

textutil -convert html file.extension

Nano is a very easy-to-use text editor for quick changes to text files. It is less powerful than VIM but has the advantage of clearly showing you the common editing commands:

nano [file_to_edit]

…In nano, use ctrl+o to Save and ctrl+x to quit.

Greg shared a way of tidying the terminal window. Essentially this command scrolls down a page, clearing the current view:



Change iTunes link behaviour to point at local iTunes Library instead of iTunes Store:

defaults write invertStoreLinks -bool YES

Change iTunes link behaviour to point at iTunes Store instead of local iTunes Library (ie: back to the default):

defaults write invertStoreLinks -bool NO

Other Mac OS X Terminal Resources

Mac OS X Hacking Tools (old but detailed list for the obsessive only).

Cameron Hayne’s Bash Scripts

Mac OS X Hints

Apple Forums

Note: For commands where I’ve used pbcopy to get the contents of the Clipboard as input, you can use the contents of a file as input instead. Swap pbpaste for:

cat [/path/to/filename]

And to put the results into a file on your desktop, just swap | pbcopy for:

> ~/Desktop/filename.txt


mac terminal command, applescript primer

2016: Updated for El Capitan!

Hey if you find this page useful, check out the 2016 version of my Mac Terminal Commands ebook. It contains all the commands here, plus many new ones, and other useful stuff to do with the OS X Terminal, bash, AppleScript, and more. Get started with Mac scripting now >




DigitalColor Meter is handy for sampling on-screen colour

DigitalColor Meter is handy for sampling on-screen colour

Installed with every Mac, DigitalColor Meter gives you accurate readings of on-screen colours: you can inspect individual pixels, and copy and paste RGB values. When used with Safari or Firefox and a great text editor, it’s a lightweight but powerful tool. Here’s an overview…


  • Find it in /Applications/Utilities/
  • For using with HTML and CSS,  set the colour type to “RGB as Hex Value, 8-bit”
  • Command+Shift+c to copy the current colour as text – perfect for pasting straight into a .css file, alternatively, click and drag from the swatch area to copy the current colour as text (switch this on in preferences first)
  • Command+Shift+h to hold the current colour
  • Set the magnification factor to maximum and the aperture size to minimum for pixel-perfect sampling. Handy for ‘borrowing’ font colours from other sites!
  • Reduce the magnification factor and increase the aperture size for getting an averaged colour – say, when you’re working with gradients or photos
  • When DigitalColor Meter is the active app, you can use the arrow keys to move the aperture in one-pixel increments
  • You can also save the current hovered area as a .tiff file, or copy it to the clipboard. 
  • Set the window to float and keep it in the bottom right of the screen, so it’s always there at a glance. 

One last point: on Tiger at least, if you switch users to a user who has DigitalColor Meter running it will crash. But that’s an annoyance at worst…

Retrospect again

October 31, 2007 — Leave a comment

UPDATE 24 March 2009: Retrospect 8 for Mac OS X has been released!

Just saw this on MacNN: EMC Retrospect 8.0 on chopping block? (ok, it’s months old), so it looks like version 8 definitely isn’t coming to the Mac. Is it just me or does this seem like an opportunity for some hungry Mac developers to build a really good backup system that suits Small Office Networks, has provision for offsite backups like Retrospect does, but sports a swish Cocoa interface and is Universal?

Because basically Time Machine covers local backups but doesn’t serve the same ‘Backup Server’ role that Retrospect Workgroup does…

I know there are some good small backup apps for the Mac out there, but do any backup a network of Macs and provide backup set management?

UPDATE 24 March 2009: Retrospect 8 for Mac OS X has been released. So, given the limitations of Leopard’s Time Machine, it might be worth a look…

…At least in our office. With the imminent arrival of Leopard, my attention’s turned to the upgrade process. At the moment, the only application that I can foresee having problems is Retrospect. No real reason for that, other than it’s not Universal and is generally old and clunky! But Time Machine might take care of most of our backup needs pretty simply, so I’m considering just ditching Retrospect. The only snag is that we do offsite backups with Retrospect – every week I retrieve one drive and send the other.

So how to replicate the offsite part of the backup system? If Time Machine supports multiple drives and therefore Multiple backups, it would be simple. Perhaps an online system, e.g.: .Mac or S4? Is Apple doing this to drive more customers to .Mac?

I’m in two minds about the departure of Retrospect, it really is flexible and it has done a great job, but the interface is arcane and non-Intel native (and with no upgrade in sight!). It also requires a bit of administration overhead, so I’m angling to reduce that and go for a more Mac-like backup experience – it should just work!