Mac Terminal | Everything You Need to Know About It

Mac Terminal | Everything You Need to Know About It

Over the past couple of decades, computing power has increased drastically like never before. In fact, the famed Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) which guided the moon landing only had the processing power of two Nintendo consoles, going to show how far technology has come.

The modern computer, specifically the Mac, has advanced leaps and bounds beyond what many thought was possible.

Despite this advancement in technology, few people utilize the full extent of Mac’s capabilities. One such way to access the “behind the scenes” of your Mac where raw calculations are performed is to start using the terminal.

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What is Mac Terminal?

For those unfamiliar with the term, Mac Terminal is the command line interface for the macOS operating system. By accessing this command line, a user can operate their device through typed commands which can perform a variety of functions. For example, when the average user wishes to create a new folder on their desktop, they would right-click and select a new folder. 

However, a user could type this same command into the Mac terminal and the folder would be created in the same way. While the above is just a simple example, there are a number of benefits to using a Mac terminal that network administrators and security professionals typically take advantage of.

There are two primary ways to access the Mac terminal:

  1. Select the Launchpad icon on your dock, type in terminal, and then click the icon
  2. Launch Finder on your Mac, locate the applications folder, sub-utilities folder, and then double-click on the terminal.

What Do People Do on Mac Terminal?

For the average individual, there may be no major need to actually use the terminal. After all, the majority of functions that a person will perform on their computer will be done quickly from the standard graphical user interface.

However, for programmers, network administrators, and other groups, there are a number of benefits to using a Mac terminal.

Benefits of Mac Terminal

The most prominent of these include:

  • Initiate an action that is not possible using the basic desktop
  • Show files that are hidden in folders long forgotten
  • Terminal is a method of accessing hidden parts of macOS which cannot be accessed via system preferences
  • A higher level of customization of a person’s computer documents, data, and more.

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Most Common Terminal Errors to Be Aware Of

For those who are just starting to learn how to use the terminal or even for those who have been using it for years, there are a number of common error messages that may occur.

Recognizing each of these along with their meanings can help a programmer and average user alike troubleshoot anything that occurs: 

Zsh: Permission Denied

Perhaps one of the most frustrating error messages to see is “zsh: permission denied:” especially if it is your first time seeing the error. While it can be troubling to see this message, all it refers to is that the terminal is unable to perform whichever command you have tried to input.

While there can be a variety of reasons that this is occurring, the most common is that the file you are attempting to access is locked or that you have mistyped the command itself. 

Operation Not Permitted

Similar to “zsh: permission denied”, an operation not permitted message will most likely be shown when the terminal does not have Full Disk Access granted. All this simply means is that an application within the terminal has not been whitelisted as safe to edit data within your device.

To give Full Disk Access, a user can go through system preferences manually and add the terminal application to the list of approved apps. 

Zsh: Command Not Found

As the name implies, an error message stating zsh: command not found means that the command typed into the terminal is not recognized by the system.

While there are a variety of causes for this, the most common is a mistyped command, an uninstalled package, or a change in the default environment configuration. 

Tap into the capabilities of your Mac today

While learning how to work in the terminal is certainly a steep learning curve, there are many benefits to learning the ins and outs of the system.

By working on the command line, you can gain access to more functionality from your computer than you would ordinarily have from the basic graphical user interface.

Begin practicing in the terminal and understand the most common error messages so that you can hit the ground running as you begin to learn.

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