How to Use the Terminal on a Mac

I like to think of the terminal as my husband’s to-do list, only when you type a command correctly it always gets done!

Most of us are used to accessing or doing what we need on our computers through a graphical user interface (GUI). An example of a GUI that you might use frequently if you’re using a Mac is the Finder. The Finder is the default file manager and graphical user interface shell used on all Macintosh operating systems.

If you wanted to create a new folder called ‘erica’ inside your Documents directory you might double clicking Documents, right click somewhere, click on ‘New Folder’, write ‘erica’ and press enter. However, you could open up your terminal, type cd ~/Documents; mkdir erica and accomplish the same task.

The Terminal is not used for programming, but there are many useful tasks you can accomplish after learning how to type commands into it. For instance, creating files or opening up files to edit in your text editor. Some programs also don’t have a GUI or have a GUI that is badly designed. It can also be much faster to accomplish many tasks by simply typing commands verses using your mouse.

Opening the terminal on a Mac: Let’s go ahead and open the terminal. On OS X, open your Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder. Open the Terminal application.

Through The Odin Project I found some great resources to help you get started understanding and using the terminal with basic commands:

I also downloaded a great terminal cheat sheet off Github for Mac users while I was learning how to use the command line that helped to print out (or reference on a another screen) while working and learning how to use the terminal.

Learning to use the terminal at the start of my coding journey has made all the difference and I’m pleased I took the time to learn most basic commands. I have also opted to learn as much as I can in my own development environment verses using a site like Code Academy, so figuring out the best and most efficient workflows from the beginning is an important objective of mine. Let me know if you have any questions if you’re just getting started on your journey or advice if you’re already a developer!

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