10 Mac Terminal Commands Every User Should Know

Mac Terminal commands are powerful instructions that allow users to interact with their Mac system through a text-based interface called the Terminal. They enable users to perform various tasks, from basic file navigation and management to system configuration and network troubleshooting. Here are some essential Mac Terminal commands:

List of 20 Mac Terminal Commands

1. cd – Navigating Through Directories

The cd command stands as the gateway to traverse directories swiftly within the Terminal. For instance, by typing cd Desktop, you seamlessly shift to the Desktop directory, while cd alone takes you back to the home directory.

2. ls – Listing Contents of a Directory

ls: Lists the contents of a directory. Running ls displays the files and folders within the current directory.

3. mkdir – Creating New Directories

mkdir: Creates a new directory. For instance, mkdir Documents generates a ‘Documents’ folder.

4. rm – Removing Files or Directories

rm: Deletes files or directories. Caution is necessary as it permanently removes items. For instance, rm file.txt deletes ‘file.txt’.

5. cp – Copying Files and Directories

cp: Copies files or directories. For example, cp oldfile.txt newfile.txt creates a copy of ‘oldfile.txt’ named ‘newfile.txt’.

6. mv – Moving or Renaming Files

mv: Moves or renames files. Use mv file.txt /directory/ to move ‘file.txt’ to another directory or mv oldfile.txt newfile.txt to rename a file.

7. touch – Creating Empty Files

touch: Creates empty files. Running touch newfile.txt generates a ‘newfile.txt’.

8. sudo – Executing Commands as Superuser

sudo: Executes commands with superuser/administrator privileges. For instance, sudo reboot restarts the system.

9. grep – Searching Within Files

grep: Searches for specific text within files. For example, grep 'keyword' file.txt searches for ‘keyword’ in ‘file.txt’.

10. man – Accessing Manual Pages

man: Accesses manual pages for commands. Typing man ls provides detailed information about the ls command.

11. find – Exploring File System

Navigate through your file system effortlessly with find. For instance, find / -name example.txt searches for ‘example.txt’ across the entire system.

12. chmod – Modifying File Permissions

Grant or revoke file permissions using chmod. Command chmod 777 file.txt allows complete access to ‘file.txt.’

13. history – Reviewing Command History

Recall past commands with history. Typing history presents a log of previously executed commands.

14. ping – Testing Network Connections

Troubleshoot network connectivity using ping. For instance, ping google.com checks your connection to Google’s servers.

15. top – Monitoring System Activity

Witness real-time system activity with top. This command provides insights into running processes and resource consumption.

16. tar – Compressing and Extracting Files

Manage archives effortlessly with tar. Use tar -cvf archive.tar file.txt to create a compressed archive named ‘archive.tar.’

17. open – Opening Files or Applications

Launch files or applications directly from Terminal with open. open document.pdf opens the ‘document.pdf’ file in the default app.

Also Read – How To Open Terminal On Mac

18. curl – Transferring Data

Transfer data from or to a server using curl. For instance, curl -O http://example.com/file.zip downloads ‘file.zip’ from the specified URL.

19. say – Text-to-Speech Conversion

Amaze with say by converting text to speech. Type say "Hello, World!" to hear your Mac speak the phrase aloud.

20. kill – Terminating Processes

When a process misbehaves, kill comes to the rescue. Terminate a process using kill processID by specifying the ID of the errant process.

These are some of the most important terminal commands for mac. You can also check the best terminal apps for mac if you are looking for alternative apps to use these commands.


Mastering these twenty Mac Terminal commands extends unparalleled control and efficiency over your Mac system. While these commands wield immense power, cautious execution and practice are crucial to prevent unintended consequences.

These commands are just a glimpse into the vast range of functionalities the Terminal offers, allowing users to perform various tasks efficiently and precisely on their Mac systems.

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