Managing Files and Directories: A Guide to Mac Terminal Commands

If you're a Mac user, you may already be familiar with the Terminal application. It's a powerful tool that allows you to take control of your computer using text commands. In this article, we'll explore some essential Mac Terminal commands for managing files and directories.

Getting Started

To open Terminal, go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Once open, you'll see a blank window with a command prompt. This is where you can start typing your commands.

Navigating Directories

To navigate through directories, you'll need to use commands such as cd (change directory) and ls(list directory contents).

  • cd - This command is used to change the current working directory. For example, cd Documents will move you into the "Documents" directory.

  • ls - Use this command to list the contents of the current directory. Typing ls -l will display the contents in a more detailed format, including file permissions, owners, and sizes.

  • pwd - If you ever need to know the current working directory, use this command. It will display the full path to your current location.

Creating and Deleting Files/Directories

To create or delete files and directories, you can use the following commands:

  • mkdir - Use this command to create a new directory. For example, typing mkdir NewDir will create a new directory called "NewDir".

  • touch - This command is used to create a new file. For example, touch newfile.txt will create a new text file called "newfile.txt".

  • rm - Use this command to remove files or directories. Be cautious when using this command, as it permanently deletes the selected items. For example, rm file.txt will delete the file named "file.txt".

  • rmdir - This command is used to remove empty directories. For example, rmdir emptydir will delete the empty directory named "emptydir".

Moving and Copying Files/Directories

You can move or copy files and directories using the following commands:

  • mv - Use this command to move files or directories from one location to another. For example, mv file.txt /path/to/new/location will move "file.txt" to the specified path.

  • cp - This command is used to copy files or directories. For example, cp file.txt /path/to/new/location will create a copy of "file.txt" in the specified path.

Working with File Contents

You can also perform actions on the contents of files using the following commands:

  • cat - Use this command to display the contents of a file in the Terminal window. For example, cat file.txt will display the content of "file.txt".

  • grep - This command is used to search for specific text patterns within files. For example, grep "keyword" file.txt will search for the specified keyword within "file.txt".

  • less - Use this command to view the contents of a file one page at a time. This is useful when dealing with large files. For example, less largefile.txt will display the content of "largefile.txt" one page at a time.


These are just some of the basic Mac Terminal commands for managing files and directories. With these commands, you'll be able to navigate, create, delete, move, copy, and work with the content of files and directories in your Mac's Terminal. Remember to exercise caution when performing actions such as deleting or moving files, as they can have permanent consequences. Happy managing!

Mac Commands

Master your Mac with ease with our ultimate command reference.