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Awesome Open Source

tools-osx README

by Morgan Aldridge [email protected]

tools-osx on OpenHub Donate


A small collection of Mac OS X command line tools that I’ve developed over the years. Similar to the NextStep and Mac OS X commands open, pbcopy, and pbpaste, most of these tools are bash scripts created as an exercise to hone my bash-fu. There are also a number of Perl and Ruby scripts submitted by others.



clipcat prints and concatenates Mac OS text clippings. Submitted by Daphne Preston-Kendal.


dict performs a look-up in the Mac OS X dictionary. Note: unlike the other scripts provided, this one requires that you have MacRuby installed. Submitted by Daphne Preston-Kendal.


eject ejects a volume or network volume and all other volumes on the same local device. A shorter, simpler, smarter wrapper of diskutil’s various eject/unmount options and allows specifying either a full path in /Volumes or just the volume name.


launch searches for and launches applications. It's a slightly smarter wrapper for open -a with wildcard matching via Spotlight, if available, or find.


ql opens files with the Mac OS X Quick Look feature.


swuser switches users using the Mac OS X Fast User Switching feature. You can either switch out to the login window or to another user. Note: unfortunately, this is not currently compatible with screen.


trash allows trashing of files instead of tempting fate with rm. Correctly handles trashing files on other volumes, uses the same filename renaming scheme as Finder for duplicate file names, can list trash contents w/disk usage summary, and empty trash (including securely) w/confirmation. Does not require Finder to be running.


with sets the application with which specified documents will be opened. It can even change and open in one fell swoop. Submitted by Daphne Preston-Kendal.


Installing from Source

Installing all tools:

  1. Clone this repository or download and extract the tools.
  2. Run rake.
  3. Run rake install. (If you don't have write permission on /usr/local/bin, you'll need to prepend sudo.)

Installing one or more specific tools:

  1. Clone this repository or download and extract the tools.
  2. Run rake
  3. Run rake 'install[ql,trash]', specifying individual tools in a comma separated list between the square brackets. (If you don't have write permission on /usr/local/bin, you'll need to prepend sudo.)

Installing Using a zsh Plugin Manager

Note: You cannot install clipcat, dict, or with using this method.

macOS 10.15 Catalina and newer now use zsh as the default shell. If you're using a zsh plugin manager, you can install individual tools as follows and they'll be automatically downloaded, installed, and kept up-to-date:

  • Using zinit: Add the following to your ~/.zshrc file for each tool you wish to install, trash, for example:
zinit wait'1' lucid light-mode as"program" pick"src/trash" for morgant/tools-osx


Looking for other Mac OS X-specific command line tools to complement these? Check out the following:


Special thanks to: Daphne Preston-Kendal for all her submissions and collaboration; Matt Brictson for his initial relative path bug fix in trash; huyz for the improved determination of Finder’s PID to prevent possible false-positives in trash.

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