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How to Use Homebrew-Cask

Getting Started

First ensure you have Homebrew version 0.9.5 or higher:

$ brew --version

Frequently Used Commands

Homebrew-Cask is implemented as a subcommand of Homebrew. All Homebrew-Cask commands begin with brew cask. Homebrew-Cask has its own set of command verbs many of which are similar to Homebrew’s. The most frequently-used commands are:

  • search — searches all known Casks
  • install — installs the given Cask
  • uninstall — uninstalls the given Cask

Searching for Casks

The brew cask search command accepts a series of substring arguments, and returns tokens representing matching Casks. Let’s see if there’s a Cask for Google Chrome:

$ brew cask search chrome

A search command with no search term will list all available Casks:

$ brew cask search
# <list of all available Casks>

Installing Casks

The command brew cask install accepts a Cask token as returned by brew cask search. Let’s try to install Google Chrome:

$ brew cask install google-chrome
==> Downloading
==> Moving App 'Google' to '/Applications/Google'
🍺  google-chrome was successfully installed!

Uninstalling Casks

Easy peasy:

$ brew cask uninstall google-chrome

This will both uninstall the Cask and remove applications which were moved to /Applications.

To uninstall all versions of a Cask, use --force:

$ brew cask uninstall --force google-chrome

Note that uninstall --force is currently imperfect. See the man page for more information.

Other Commands

  • info — displays information about the given Cask
  • list — with no args, lists installed Casks; given installed Casks, lists staged files
  • fetch — downloads remote application files for the given Cask to the local cache (with --force, re-download even if already cached)
  • doctor — checks for configuration issues
  • cleanup — cleans up cached downloads (with --outdated, only cleans old downloads)
  • home — opens the homepage of the given Cask; or with no arguments, the Homebrew-Cask project page
  • update — a synonym for brew update
  • zap — try to remove all files associated with a Cask (may include resources shared with other applications)

The following commands are for Cask authors:

  • audit — verifies installability of Casks
  • cat — dumps the given Cask to the standard output
  • create — creates a Cask and opens it in an editor
  • edit — edits the given Cask

The following aliases and abbreviations are provided for convenience:

  • lslist
  • -Ssearch
  • rm, removeuninstall
  • upupdate
  • drdoctor

Tab Completion

Homebrew/homebrew-completions supports bash and fish completions (only for brew-cask right now). Install them with:

$ brew install homebrew/completions/brew-cask-completion

For zsh completion support, simply run:

$ brew install zsh-completions

Inspecting Installed Casks

List all installed Casks:

$ brew cask list
adium          google-chrome     onepassword

Show details about a specific Cask:

$ brew cask info caffeine
caffeine: 1.1.1
Not installed
==> Name
==> Artifacts (app)

Updating/Upgrading Casks

Since the Homebrew-Cask repository is a Homebrew Tap, you’ll pull down the latest Casks every time you issue the regular Homebrew command brew update. Currently, Homebrew-Cask cannot always detect if an application has been updated. You can force an update via the command brew cask install --force. We are working on improving this.

It is generally safe to run updates from within an application.

Updating/Upgrading the Homebrew-Cask Tool

Homebrew automatically taps and keeps Homebrew-Cask updated. brew update is all that is required.

Additional Taps (optional)

The primary Homebrew-Cask Tap includes most of the Casks that a typical user will be interested in. There are a few additional Taps where we store different kinds of Casks.

Tap name description
caskroom/versions contains alternate versions of Casks (e.g. betas, nightly releases, old versions)
caskroom/fonts contains Casks that install fonts, which are kept separate so we can educate users about the different licensing landscape around font installation/usage
caskroom/eid contains Casks that install electronic identity card software of various countries

You can tap any of the above with a brew tap command:

$ brew tap <tap_name>

after which, Casks from the new Tap will be available to search or install just like Casks from the main Tap. brew update will automatically keep your new Tap up to date.

You may also specify a fully-qualified Cask token (which includes the Tap) for any brew cask command. This will implicitly add the Tap if you have not previously added it with brew tap:

$ brew cask install caskroom/fonts/font-symbola


brew cask accepts a number of options:

  • --version: print version and exit
  • --debug: output debug information
  • --no-binaries: skip symlinking executable binaries into /usr/local/bin
  • --require-sha: abort installation of cask if no checksum is defined

You can also modify the default installation locations used when issuing brew cask install:

  • --caskroom=/my/path determines where the actual applications will be located. Default is $(brew --prefix)/Caskroom
  • --appdir=/my/path changes the path where the applications (above) will be moved. Default is /Applications.
  • --prefpanedir=/my/path changes the path for PreferencePanes. Default is ~/Library/PreferencePanes
  • --qlplugindir=/my/path changes the path for Quicklook Plugins. Default is ~/Library/QuickLook
  • --dictionarydir=/my/path changes the path for Dictionaries. Default is ~/Library/Dictionaries
  • --fontdir=/my/path changes the path for Fonts. Default is ~/Library/Fonts
  • --input_methoddir=/my/path changes the path for Input Methods. Default is ~/Library/Input Methods
  • --screen_saverdir=/my/path changes the path for Screen Savers. Default is ~/Library/Screen Savers

To make these settings persistent, you might want to add the following line to your .bash_profile or .zshenv:

# Specify your defaults in this environment variable
export HOMEBREW_CASK_OPTS="--appdir=~/Applications --caskroom=/etc/Caskroom"

Note that you still can override the environment variable HOMEBREW_CASK_OPTS by explicitly providing options in the command line:

# Will force the Chrome app to be moved to /Applications
# even though HOMEBREW_CASK_OPTS specified ~/Applications
$ brew cask install --appdir="/Applications" google-chrome

Advanced Searching

The default search algorithm is a lax substring approach, which does not use the command-line arguments exactly as given. If you need to specify a search more precisely, a single search argument enclosed in / characters will be taken as a Ruby regular expression:

$ brew cask search '/^google.c[a-z]rome$/'

Other Ways to Specify a Cask

Most brew cask commands can accept a Cask token as an argument. As described above, the token on the command line can take the form of:

  • A token as returned by brew cask search, eg: google-chrome.
  • A fully-qualified token which includes the Tap, eg: caskroom/fonts/font-symbola.

brew cask also accepts three other forms as arguments:

  • A path to a Cask file, eg: /usr/local/Library/Taps/caskroom/homebrew-cask/Casks/google-chrome.rb.
  • A curl-retrievable URI to a Cask file, eg:
  • A file in the current working directory, eg: my-modfied-google-chrome.rb. Note that matching Tapped Cask tokens will be preferred over this form when there is a conflict. To force the use of a Cask file in the current directory, specify a pathname with slashes, eg: ./google-chrome.rb.

The last three forms are intended for users who wish to maintain private Casks.


You can add Casks to your existing (or new) Taps: just create a directory named Casks inside your Tap, put your Cask files there, and everything will just work.