Member of The Internet Defense League
Donald L. Merand

OS X Terminal Tips and Tricks

These are some shortcuts and programs that make my life easier in the terminal on OS X.


CTRL-V then any character
- will allow you to type special characters eg. tab in the terminal

- open Vim (actually whatever’s stored in $EDITOR) with whatever’s on the command line


filename=$(basename $fullfile)
- alternately, filename=${fullfile##*/}


- alternately, extension=${filename/*.}


pushd / popd
- Same as cd but stores $PWD on the stack. Push and pop directories instead of always changing to full paths. Use this more.
- dirs shows the stack

ps -cax
- List each program by the program that called it - better for quitting GUI apps

osascript -e 'tell application "Application" to quit'
- safely Quit a GUI program

open -a 'Program' file_name
- Open a GUI program (with an optional file_name)

- copy/paste to the OS X clipboard

awk '{gsub(/\r/, "\n", $0); print $0}'
- convert Mac line endings to UNIX line endings
- (used to use tr, but it doesn’t handle unicode very well. awk isn’t pretty, but it does it)

tr '<' '\n<'
- find all < characters and put a newline before them (NOT ELEGANT IN OS X SED)
- alternately awk '{sub(/</, "\n<", $0); print $0}'

sort -k 2.3,5
- sort based on the second column, third character through the fifth character

sort -M
- sort based on months (closest to a date sort on text sorts)

ls -1 > ALLFILES; sort MANIFEST MANIFEST ALLFILES | uniq -u | xargs rm
- to remove everything in the file list ALLFILES that’s not contained in MANIFEST
- (you’d probably want to quote the results, because xargs isn’t friendly with space characters in filenames)

find . -name "REGEXP"
- find a file, based on a regular expression

find . -iname "REGEXP" -exec COMMAND {} \;
- find a file, case-insensitive, then exec COMMAND on every matched file
- {} is a substitute for the filename

find . -type f -name ".*"
- find all hidden files (type d for directories)

find / -type f -name *.zip -size +100M -exec rm -i {} \;
- remove all .zip files on the computer, larger than 100M, interactively

ruby -ne 'puts $_'
- takes standard input, runs with $_ being current line until end-of-file (CTRL-D) character

syslog | grep -i "error"
- dump the entire system log file, check for errors

jot 10
- prints 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 with newlines between them.
- use “-r” for random
- two numbers starts at the first and does the second number of prints

defaults write pinning -string end
- dock in the lower-right corner

plutil -convert xml1 PLIST_FILE
- convert a plist file into an XCode-readable format


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