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Mac Terminal

By: Justin Stoltzfus | Reviewed by Kuntal ChakrabortyCheckmark | Last updated: March 14, 2022

What Does Mac Terminal Mean?

The Mac Terminal is a command line interface (CLI) for the macOS operating system (OS). Mac Terminal is typically used by network administrators and advanced technical users who want to initiate an action that is not supported by the operating system's graphical user interface (GUI).

Mac Terminal is similar to the Windows Command Prompt in its interface display and design. It can also be used as a gateway to the UNIX-compliant OS that underpins the macOS.

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Techopedia Explains Mac Terminal

Professionals may refer to Mac Terminal as an emulator or UNIX shell. The Mac Terminal interface can accommodate multiple sessions and can make some operating system tasks faster and easier for knowledgeable users.

Commands that may be executed from Mac Terminal include:

cdchange directory
rmremove files or directories
chmodchange the access mode of a file or directory
ping <host>ping a host and display its status
curl -O <url/to/file>download a file by using HTTP, HTTPS or FTP
ssh <username>@<host>
establish an SSH connection to <host> with user <username>
ls -ld
display the default permission for a home directory
ls -ld/<dir>
display the read, write and access permission of a particular folder


Business Insider calls Mac Terminal the "ultimate shortcut hub" for navigating to applications and opening files. It can be opened easily through Finder or Spotlight.

While there's a lot that can be done with Mac Terminal, there's definitely a learning curve for this type of operating system interface -- and it's important to remember that there are syntax rules for using Terminal or any similar command line interface and precision is key. Every keystroke matters and any syntax errors will negatively affect successful execution.

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