Mac Terminal commands: Have fun with Mac’s least-known program

Terminal is not for mere mortals, you're probably thinking. It's a kind of sacred knowledge that only geeks and Mac geniuses possess. But if you get through your first command line, you'll find it's not that terrifying. In fact, using Terminal is like applying Harry Potter wizardry to your tasks. Once you know the right spells, you can break any laws of how applications behave and do some unbelievable things that even the most experienced Mac people can't. Isn't it seducing to try?

We've chosen just a few of Terminal's most impressive features. For a more serious take on Mac terminal commands, check out this article. Okay, are you ready to type in your first code? To start the journey, learn how to open the Terminal app on Mac: Click Launchpad and then type Terminal in the search bar.

1) Make your Mac talk to you

One of the simplest commands can be very fun, especially when you are planning a prank on somebody. Just type any text in Terminal, and your computer will speak it in your Mac's default voice. But there are about 20 voices and intonations to choose from, plus the ability to convert an entire text file into speech. So here's a slick audiobook maker at your hand.

Open up Terminal, type in:

say followed by a space and any text you want to hear

2) Customize Login Message

This is what makes Mac more personal and humanized. For example, you can write an inspirational motto or helpful information for other users if it's a public library computer. It might even be a way to retrieve your MacBook if you lose it — if you set a login message with your contact information. Once again, there's much room for pranking other people, but we won't go deep into that. 

Open up Terminal, type in:

sudo write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText "Custom Text Here"

3) Watch Star Wars in Terminal app

In Terminal symbols, of course. This could be the greatest trick which makes no particular sense, but even if just for the coolness alone, you should try it. The Death Star, R2D2, spaceships, and the rest of the Episode 4 story retold in Terminal graphics will blow your friends away at the party. And there is no sound, by the way.

Open up Terminal, type in:


On macOS Sierra and higher macOS versions, you should use a different command:

nc 23

Terminal app on Mac — Star Wars

4) Show hidden files in Finder

This isn't as funny as the previous one, but searching for important files is no joke. With this command, you'll be able to see everything on your Mac, even files that were omitted from standard display.

Open up Terminal, type in:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
killall Finder

This should summon Finder with previously hidden files shown grayed out.

To reverse this operation (be aware that you may be swamped with lots of irrelevant system files), just substitute TRUE for FALSE in the command line above:

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles FALSE
killall Finder

5) Pay a visit to a psychiatrist

Funny Mac terminal commands are many. This is a classic Easter egg type of joke macOS developers famous for. When you're feeling stressed, talking to a friendly chatbot will at least make you smile. Strangely enough, this therapy may be actually working because you are asked to verbalize your emotions by giving them a closer look. And the psychiatrists (the real ones) will confirm that sometimes it works.

Open up Terminal, type in:

emacs and then hit Return. Press Esc, then x, and finally type doctor

Terminal commands list Mac

6) See iTunes songs notification via Terminal app

A clever addition if you normally work with the music in the background. If you fell in love with a particular track from your playlist, you don't need to open iTunes to find out the artist's name. It will pop up on your Mac Dock from now on. Though a bit strange, this feature isn't included by default because it's really a timesaver.

Open up Terminal, type in:

defaults write itunes-notifications -bool TRUE

Close  the dock using the following command:

killall Dock

7) Play simple games

Play games in terminal Mac

This is another retro cool feature to cheer you up once in a while. You can play Tetris, Pong, Snake, and a dozen of other arcade games. Once you have unlocked these nice hidden toys, you'll surely get to love your Mac more. Prepare to use your arrow keys.

Open up Terminal, type in:

emacs. Press Enter to open it up, press Esc then x. Now you have to type the name of the particular game, and that's it.

Game names:

  • tetris
  • pong
  • snake
  • solitaire 
  • 5x5
  • landmark
  • doctor

What you learn from using Mac Terminal commands is that nothing is really impossible if you're on a Mac. But it's better to start your Terminal experience with these funny little tricks and then go to something serious. This program has a nearly infinite number of magic spells to choose from.

8) Make your Mac faster and more responsive

Okay, this has nothing to do with Terminal. But who wouldn’t want their MacBook as speedy and efficient as back then, on its first day? Surprisingly, this can be achieved easily, Terminal-style way — with the aid of CleanMyMac X. 

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Hope you found this article helpful, stay tuned for more!

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