Mac Terminal Commands for Your Inner Geek

Owning a Mac or MacBook is one of the simple pleasures in life, but only if you get the most out of it. Apple builds Macs and MacBooks to be incredibly powerful, versatile, and functional machines.

One way of getting the most out of your Mac is by using the many Mac terminal commands. Most Mac users don’t know a smattering about terminal commands or using the terminal app.  If this describes you, then don’t worry; we’ve got your back.

Contrary to what most people think, the terminal app or its commands aren’t only for Mac geeks or computer gurus. Anyone who can operate a mouse and keyboard and understand the macOS basics can use Mac terminal commands.  All you need to know is a few terminal commands, and you’re good to go.

In this post, we’ll be highlighting some essential Mac terminal commands that you can use to impress your friends. Before we get started, let’s first look at what the terminal app is.

What Is the Terminal App?

The terminal app, found in every version of the macOS, is a utility app for issuing commands to your Mac. To use the terminal app, you have to enter commands in the command line and press the return key to execute your command. You can use the terminal app to control and customize your Mac and for other functions.

To open the Mac terminal app, all you have to do is:

  • Open Finder
  • Go to applications
  • Click on utilities
  • Click and open ‘Terminal’

Alternatively, you can launch the terminal app from the Launchpad in the dock.

  • Click on Launchpad
  • On the search field, type “terminal”
  • Click on the terminal to open the app

Clicking on the terminal will open a small window. The title of the window will have your username and the word bash on the title. Inside the window, you’ll find your last login information.  From there, it’s up to you to type and execute commands.

Basic Terminal Commands Mac

Now that you know how to access the terminal app, the next on your to-do list is to learn some of the basic Mac terminal commands. You’ll need a notebook and pen if it’s your first time using the terminal app. However, after using the app a couple of times, you’ll have these basic commands at your fingertips.

If you look at your terminal window, it’ll read something along the lines of “Tylers-MacBook-Pro: Randy$”. Randy is the user’s name, and Tylers-MacBook-Pro is the name of the computer. With that in mind, here are some basic terminal commands you should know.

The Talking Mac Command

If you really want to impress your friends, then the talking Mac command is just what you need.  With this command, your Mac will read out anything you type. Plus, it’s one of the simplest terminal commands for Mac.

All you have to do is type “say”, then follow it up with what you want your Mac to say. The Mac will read whatever you type in its default voice. However, if you want to switch the voice, all you have to do is go to preferences, then speech, and then select the voice you want.

To Drag Widgets From Your Dashboard to Your Desktop

If you want to make using your Mac a breeze, why not drag the widgets from your dashboard to your desktop? It’s a bit more complicated than the previous command, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.  To drag your widgets from your dashboard to your desktop, you have to enter the following command.

“defaults write YES”

That’s just part of the process; next, you have to log out then log in again, and that’s where the magic starts. Click on the widget you want to drag, then drag it with your mouse and press F12 to release the widget from the dashboard.

Show Hidden Files

If you want to unhide hidden files in Finder, you can use a simple terminal command. Even if you don’t hide any files or folders, the OS still hides a few files. However, these are irrelevant files that you don’t have any use for.

However, if you want to show these hidden files, all you have to do is enter this simple command,

“defaults write  Apple ShowAllFiles True”

This will show all the hidden files and folders in Finder. If you want to undo the changes, replace true with false.

Get Rid of the Dashboard

If you want to remove the dashboard altogether, there’s a simple command for that. You’d want to do this if you’re running an older macOS version with memory issues. Plus, if you’ve dragged the widgets from the dashboard to your desktop, then you probably don’t need it.

If you want to remove the dashboard, all you have to do is run this command:

“defaults write mcx-disabled Boolean YES

To restart the dock, you enter “killall Dock”

Like that, you’ll have removed the dashboard from your Mac. However, if you ever need it back, all you have to do is replace the YES on the first command with a NO.

Controlling Your Mac Remotely

A special feature called Secure Shell or SSH allows you to control your Mac remotely. However, first, you need to enable remote login on your Mac by clicking to sharing on system preferences and enabling it. Once you see the green light, it means it’s time to go.

To control your Mac remotely, run the following command.

“ssh -1 username-remote address”

Replace username with your username, log in to another Mac and go to remote-address then enter the IP on the sharing pane. Now you can control your Mac and even enter terminal commands remotely.

These are just a few terminal commands that you should know. To expand your horizon, you can check out

Know Your Mac Terminal Commands by Heart

Now that you know a few Mac terminal commands, it’s time to give them a whirl. Remember, there are plenty of other terminal commands that you can learn later on. For now, the above will do until you can know them by heart.

There’s plenty more from where that came from. For more informative reads, be sure to check out the other pieces on the site.

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