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How to Use Mac Terminal: A Beginner’s Guide

Using Mac Terminal: Beginner's Guide

The terminal application, also known as the command line application, is a powerful tool inherent in your Mac. Using simple lines of codes, it lets you control your Mac from the back end. This guide will walk you through how to launch the terminal application, navigate it, and perform basic operations like creating and deleting folders. 🚀


Launching the Terminal

Open the finder and navigate to applications folder. Inside it, you’ll find a folder called utilities. Double-click that, and you find the terminal application. Double-click it to launch the terminal. 🖱


Changing Terminal Appearance

Before starting, you can personalize the look of your terminal. Go to shell -> show inspector -> profile in the terminal menu. Change the profile to suit your preferences. Use command + to increase the size of the text for better visibility. 👀


Exploring Commands

Press escape twice to show the different commands you can execute in the terminal. This list only shows a few commands. By pressing enter you can see more options. 💻


Creating Folders & Files

Use the command mkdir followed by the name of the folder you want to create. To create files inside that folder, navigate into it using the command cd followed by folder name, then create files with the command touch followed by the file name. 📁


Deleting Files & Folders

The command rm followed by the file name will delete a file. But remember, there is no garbage can in the terminal; it’ll permanently delete your files! To delete entire folders, use rm -r followed by the name of the folder. 😮


Checking Your Location

Lost in the terminal? PWD will show your current directory. Navigate back to the root directory by typing cd without specifying a folder or with cd ... ❔


Editing Files

You can create, open and edit a file using commands. Use touch to create a file, use open to open it. To edit within the terminal, the command is nano followed by the file name. But be thoughtful, the terminal isn’t the friendliest text editor. 📝

Conclusion: 🏁

Congratulations! You’ve taken your first steps into the world of the Mac Terminal. As you’ve seen, it’s not as intimidating as it might initially seem. Just be careful about what you delete and always double-check your commands. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility! 💥


The Mac Terminal, also known as the command line, is a text-based interface enabling users to issue commands to their computer. It executes commands from both local and remote servers.

You can open Terminal on a Mac from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. Or, use Spotlight and type Terminal to search and open it.

The shell is a program that interprets the text commands you put into the Terminal. The default shell in the Mac Terminal is now zsh, which was bash.

You can navigate in the Terminal using commands like ‘cd’ to change directory, ‘ls’ to list files and directories, and ‘pwd’ to print the working directory.

Some common commands include ‘ls’ to list directory contents, ‘cd’ to change directory, ‘touch’ to create a new file, ‘cp’ to copy files, ‘mv’ to move files, and ‘rm’ to remove files.

You can clear the screen by typing the ‘clear’ command or pressing control + L keys.

You can exit out of Terminal by using the ‘exit’ command or simply closing the Terminal window.

You can create a new directory using the ‘mkdir’ command followed by the name of the directory you wish to create.

You can rename a file using the ‘mv’ command followed by the current name and then the new name.

You can move files with the ‘mv’ command. You specify the current file path and then the destination path.

Using Terminal can increase efficiency by executing tasks directly. This is useful for scripting tasks, managing files, troubleshooting issues, and more.

There is no universal undo command in Terminal. However, certain commands have their own undo command. Always double-check commands before running them.

You can use the ‘find’ command to locate a file in Terminal. Provide the directory to search in and the name of the file.

The ‘sudo’ command allows users to run programs with the security privileges of another user (normally the superuser, or root).

You can execute multiple commands in a single line by separating them with a semicolon (;).

Yes, you can run programs from Terminal using the appropriate command and file path.

You can change your Terminal theme by opening Terminal’s Preferences, clicking on Profiles, and selecting a different theme or creating your own style.

Yes, using aliases in your shell configuration file, you can create custom shortcuts or commands.

You can copy and paste using standard keyboard shortcuts: Command+C to copy, and Command+V to paste.

Yes, you can use Terminal to connect to remote servers using commands like ‘ssh’ for secure shell connections.

You can list all files, including hidden files, with the command ‘ls -a’.

Bash (Bourne Again SHell) is a type of shell, or command language interpreter. It was the default shell for macOS up until Catalina, which switched to zsh.

Yes, you can run Python scripts in Terminal. Navigate to the location of your script and type ‘python’ to execute it (replace ‘’ with your filename).

The ‘echo’ command is used to display text or variables value on the Terminal screen.

‘chmod’ changes the permissions of a file or directory. You specify the permissions (in numeric or symbolic form) and the file or directory.

You can create a new file by typing ‘touch’ followed by the filename and extension.

Yes, this is possible using AppleScript or Automator to run shell scripts.

Type ‘history’ in your Terminal to see a list of previously used commands.

Yes, Terminal provides several commands for managing your network, such as ‘ping’, ‘netstat’, ‘nslookup’, ‘traceroute’, among others.

Homebrew is a package manager for macOS that you can use from Terminal to install software not included in the App Store.