Terminal for dummies

par Lionel - 28/06/2004
How to use terminal application ? The essential presented by Arthur.



The Terminal for dummies :)



The Terminal… what is it?

The Terminal appeared in MacOS with version X. is an application which opens a shell: a command-translator, a communication mean between the user and the UNIX layer of Mac OSX (which is a Darwin-based UNIX). Warning: The Terminal is a very powerful tool, and a failure in its usage can lead to irreversible operations, such as deleting some files, etc..

The Terminal… what is it good for?

The Terminal can be used for performing many tasks, and in this article we will describe several functions: file management (deleting files, moving files on the HD, etc..), edit text file. Thanks to different software which are executable in the Terminal shell. Several thousands of softwares for different purposes are available from the UNIX world (Linux, etc..) and compatible with Mac OSX.
What can the Terminal be useful for vs. the Finder? The Terminal allows you to perform automatic tasks, but more interestingly, to execute remote functions/commands for managing a server for example; but first let's see how it works.

Opening the Terminal

The application,, is located in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder; when you launch it, a window is opened and displayed a shell (several shells are available, each of them having their properties, the default shell in Panther is bash)

(colors can be modified in the Terminal preferences, so even if your Terminal does not look like mine, we have the same one ;) )

The last line is named "prompt", this is the place where we will type commands, and validate them using the "enter" key.
The "prompt" has the following structure:

<computer name>:<active directory> <login>$

On the above screenshot, the computer name is Arthur, ~ defines the "Home" folder for the current user ( /Users/login/ ; to type ~ : option + n ) and the username is Arthur.
Let's first see some basic commands to navigate through directories, delete files, etc.…

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