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  1. #1

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Beginner's guide to navigating the Terminal in OS X
    I found this great little tutorial on the basics of navigating the command line interface in OS X. For those of you switching - the Terminal program, located in Applications => Utilities is the equivalent of the Command Prompt in Windows XP. Since OS X is built on top of a variation of OpenBSD, known as Darwin, you'll find that the Terminal doesn't use the traditional commands that you might be accustomed to if you cut your teeth on DOS. The great thing about learning the OS X Terminal is that the lessons translate easily into the command line utilities of other UNIX-like operating systems, including Linux. Although the majority of basic tasks can be performed exclusively in the GUI of OS X, for those wishing to graduate to "power user" status or do advanced troubleshooting, a working knowledge of the Terminal is absolutely essential.

    I hope you find this useful.

  2. #2

    rman's Avatar
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    Cool
    If I may make a small correction. The terminal is the application to get to the UNIX environment. I believe you are suggesting a working knowledge of UNIX.
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, It's about learning to dance in the rain!

  3. #3


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    Quote Originally Posted by cwa107 View Post
    For those of you switching - the Terminal program, located in Applications => Utilities is the equivalent of the Command Prompt in Windows XP.
    Those of us who live and breathe in the UNIX environment might take offence to that statement :black:

    I'm just teasing really. I've often wondered how many Mac users ever really use the Terminal, compared to how many of us use MacOS in a large part because of having Unix under the hood (I spend the majority of my working day, and a good part of my non-working day inside a shell). The Unix environment is just another one of those reasons that MacOS X is the most powerful operating system in the world. AppleScript is another...

    The main difference between the Terminal and XP's command prompt is that you can actually be productive with Terminal. The command prompt is, quite frankly, a bit of a joke. If you consider that not only does Terminal give you access to shell scripting (ksh and csh), the default install of MacOS also gives you perl, php, python, yacc, sed, and awk. Installing the development tools gives you even more goodies to play with (such as gcc).

    XP's command prompt gives you, erm, let me see... DOS batch files.

  4. #4

    D3v1L80Y's Avatar
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    Most users I know have never touched the DOS prompt/Command line in Windows.
    These are the same people, who are recent switchers, that won't likely ever have the need to enter the Terminal.
    If you have prior experience in a *nix environment, great have a ball.

    My advice:

    If you have never had any in-depth experience with a *nix OS, then the Terminal is one playground that should be left alone. Not having any knowledge prior to reading any "beginner" guide is a recipe for potential disaster.
    To put it into "Windows Terms", (something I abhor doing, but will this time to help create an analogy)... it can be likened to messing with the Registry in Windows and having no idea what you are doing. You are going to screw something up majorly, before you actually reach whatever goal it was you were trying to acheive.

    If that description matches you, then you would be wise to just leave it be.

    :black:
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  5. #5


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    Quote Originally Posted by djames42 View Post
    Those of us who live and breathe in the UNIX environment might take offence to that statement :black:
    :mac:

    (I wouldn't say that I "live and breathe in the Unix environment"...but I certainly start to suffocate in the lousy command prompt.)

  6. #6

    cwa107's Avatar
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    My comments were focused on recent switchers, not for hardened veterans of OS X and UNIX-like operating systems, that is why I posted the link in this forum. Please understand that I tried to keep my statements relevant to that audience.

    And by all means, if you don't feel comfortable working in a command-line environment, please be aware that you can do damage to your system if you don't exercise caution. However, I believe the tutorial focused more on getting in and out of directories and basic file manipulation. None of which will do serious damage without root privileges.

  7. #7


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    Something I find funny, is that when I'm on my Linux box, I find it hard to go more than 5 minutes without opening the shell to do something (Not counting when I'm randomly surfing the net), but on Mac, I open it about once every couple of weeks. it just never seems to be needed, and for a lot of what I would need it for, there's something better in the GUI that I can use.
    PC: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz, 2 GM RAM, Total 750 GB HDD, Windows Vista Business (For gaming), Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron (64-bit), Slackware 12 (For GTK# coding)
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  8. #8

    MC Hammer's Avatar
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    Ah, thanks for the link cwa107! You must be reading my mind some how, lol.

    I was fiddling with the Terminal some days ago but couldn't really make head nor tail of it, since it's pretty different from the Win prompt etc. So I thought I'd ask if there are any tutorials/guides on using the Terminal but never got around to actually ask about it. (=forgot)

    Anyways.. seems like an interesting read. I really like to dig deep in to things. Maybe it'll reveal the soul of the OS X bit more to me. So far I've felt like an outsider when using the Mac, since I'm not fully aware of what's going on under the surface :black:
    Syntax Error.

  9. #9


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    Since OS X is built on top of a variation of OpenBSD, known as Darwin, you'll find that the Terminal doesn't use the traditional commands that you might be accustomed to if you cut your teeth on DOS.


    Actually a variant of FreeBSD. I'm an avid Unix/Linux user and agree that, unless someone knows what they're doing, they should stay out of "Terminal-land".

  10. #10
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    I'm pretty sure I should stay well away from the Terminal. I have no idea what it does and even less of an idea what I would need it for. I'm well aware that I sound like such a pansy right now and I'm fine with that. What do you guys actually do with it?

    (Good link BTW)

  11. #11


    Member Since
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    I actually dig the Terminal, use it everyday. The windows prompt is crap, it's always been crap, even in Vista it's still crap. I would use Cygwin while on my windows machine but even that was not good enough. The whole Unix thing is one of the main reasons I use a Mac as my workstataion.

    As far as novice users using the Terminal, I say go crazy. It's your computer so do with it as you wish.

  12. #12


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    Hello Guys,

    is there anyway how to go inside the Terminal when restarting the PowerMac G4 like pressing the option key or C key when the computer is restarting or starting?

    will really appreciate a detailed answer.

    Thanks

  13. #13

    cwa107's Avatar
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    Turn your Mac on, immediately press and hold Command+S. This will start you in Single User mode, essentially in the terminal.
    Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!

    https://youtu.be/KHZ8ek-6ccc

  14. #14

    Dysfunction's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karudzo View Post
    Since OS X is built on top of a variation of OpenBSD, known as Darwin, you'll find that the Terminal doesn't use the traditional commands that you might be accustomed to if you cut your teeth on DOS.


    Actually a variant of FreeBSD. I'm an avid Unix/Linux user and agree that, unless someone knows what they're doing, they should stay out of "Terminal-land".
    Come on, as long as you're not doing any sudoing, there's relatively little risk in OS X. Just make sure you understand the commands you're issuing. There is very little reason not to play with perl, python, bash scripting, etc etc etc.
    mike
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    Got # ? phear the command line!

  15. #15

    scathe's Avatar
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    hehe, when people will be reading this, they might actually get even more scared of the Terminal (or shell for that matter) than ever before

    I don't think it's all that dangerous, after all how else do you want to learn than by doing something stupid

    learning to work with the shell is and for a long time probably will be very useful so even the basic knowledge is good

    on the other hand, most users don't even know something like this exists, let alone think about using it ... they might even be better off

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