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Mac - Terminal

On Macs, Command Line is accessed via an included application called Terminal.

Find it in /Users/ComputerName/Applications/Utilities/ or just type Terminal into Spotlight.

The following instructions show some customizations you can do with Terminal. Implementing these changes are not required for this course, but doing so will teach you some neat tricks, and give you practice interacting with CL.


There are customizations you can make to your Command Line program that will make your day-to-day use easier.

For example, you can configure...

  • your prompt (i.e., the line you see where you enter commands)
  • the message you see when you first open Terminal
  • aliases you can use to make long commands shorter
  • your PATH variable

Configurations can be made via the system file ~/.bashrc.

To get started, copy the contents of this .bashrc template.

Next, open ~/.bashrc with nano (a basic Command Line text editor), prefixing the command with sudo so that the file is opened with administrator priveleges:

$ sudo nano ~/.bashrc

At this point, you'll see the contents of your ~/.bashrc file which may or may not be empty. If it's empty, paste in the contents of the above-linked template. If it's not empty, paste in the template contents after what is already there.

Save your changes in nano by hitting ctrl + x.

Nano will ask you if you want to Save modified buffer. Type the letter y to confirm that you do.

Nano will confirm what filename the changes will be saved to— in this case .bashrc. Hit enter to confirm the save.

Next, edit a system file called ~/.bash_profile and tell it to load ~/.bashrc.

Open ~/.bash_profile in nano:

$ sudo nano ~/.bash_profile

Paste in this code:

if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]; then
   source ~/.bashrc

Hit ctrl + x to save and exit. Type the letter y to confirm you want to save.

Close and re-open Terminal for the changes to take effect.

If everything works, you should see something like this when you open Terminal:

After adding .bashrc script

Read through the template file, as it's commented and explains everything it does.

That being said, below are some highlights. You don't need to do anything - as everything described is already set up for you in the given .bashrc template.


Aliases provide shortcuts to commonly used commands.

For example, in the template there's an alias called ll that calls the list command (ls) with commonly used flags (shows file types, colors the output, etc.):

alias ll="ls -laFG"

You can create aliases for commonly used commands, like SSH'ing into a server:

# Example alias for SSH'ing into a server
alias myserver="ssh user@"

...Or getting to a frequently accessed directory:

# Example alias for quickly getting to a commonly used directory
alias htdocs='cd /Applications/MAMP/htdocs'

See the section under Aliases in the .bashrc file for full details.


The prompt is the line you see whenever CL is waiting for a command. In the template .bashrc, the prompt is configured to show you your current directory, plus, if you're in a directory that is a Git repository, it'll show you which branch you're on and if there are any changes to that branch.