Command Line 101 for Mac


Open up the application on your computer called “Terminal” by pressing ⌘ + SPACE and typing “Terminal”.

Its dock icon looks like , and the terminal will look something like

You can use the terminal to write commands to your computer (this is the “command line”). Let’s try it out!


In your terminal, type ls and hit enter.

The ls command, short for “list”, tells your computer to list all of the file names for the folder you’re in. Your list of files probably includes “Desktop” and “Documents”, among others. Let’s try another command:


Now type cd Documents.

You are now in the Documents folder; cd means “change directory”. If you try ls again, you should see the contents of your Documents folder listed out. If you want to compare, open up Finder and look in Documents to see the same files.


Let’s get back to the folder we were in before:

cd ..

You changed directory again! ls to see what we have here. You’re back where you started! The .. after cd tells it to go up one folder in the directory.

Ok, now you're a cool hacker who can use the terminal (or "console") to write in the command line. (If you want to learn more commands, there are a whole bunch of them here. I recommend pwd, open, mkdir, touch, mv, and cp.)

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