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Mac Hacks by Chris Seibold

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Chapter 6. Fun with Unix

Unix is what hides behind the pretty face of OS X. All those nifty graphics are powered by command-line programs that remain inscrutable to the vast majority of Mac owners. But you’re not the vast majority, you’re a Mac Hacks reader, so don’t let the power of Unix go to waste. Once you take a few steps into the Unix world, you’ll never look back.

Hack 27. Harmless Unix Tricks

Unix is the core of OS X, but to get at it you need the command-line interface, which terrifies a lot of people. This hack demystifies the command line by showing you the fun that’s baked in!

Unix was originally intended to be used from a text-only terminal console, and many of its features are still accessed via typed commands. These days, OS X users never have to use the command line to get everyday work done. (In early versions of OS X, firing up the command line was sometimes required to empty Trash!) So why would anyone want to bother with something as arcane as the command line?

For hardcore hackers, the answer is obvious: to harness the power of OS X’s underlying system. But the command line isn’t just for the geekiest among us; it’s a useful tool for everyone. Not only can otherwise unchangeable parts of OS X be modified via the command line, but in certain situations, the command line actually works better than the graphical user interface.

The easiest way to get to the command line is via an application called Terminal (you can find it in your Mac’s Utilities folder). When you ...

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