Many developers of all sorts enjoy coding on Macs. Its Unix underpinnings make it a terrific platform for software development in Python, Ruby and more. If you’re looking to begin software development on a Mac, though, there are programming languages and utilities that aren’t installed in macOS by default. For these, you need to know how to install the Xcode Command Line tools. Read along as I outline several options for getting your Mac ready for software development.
What’s Included In the Installation?
Developers often rely on tools that run on the command line, in the Terminal application. These Unix-based tools include compilers, linkers, and version control utilities.
Some of the programming languages supported by the Xcode Command Line tools include C, Cpp, Python, Ruby and more. The tools you need to work with these programming environments comes with the suite, along with much more.
If you want to see everything included in the Xcode Command Line Tools, you can either browse the contents of its directory (/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/bin/) or visit this page for a list.
Three Ways to Install Xcode Command Line Tools
There are three main ways to install the tools you need. If you’re going to be using the Xcode IDE, installing that package from the Mac App Store will also install the command line tools. The other two methods are done from Terminal.
Install the Tools With Homebrew
Often, developers will need even more programming languages and utilities than are installed even with Apple’s offering. The popular Mac package manager, Homebrew, is indispensable for those needs.
If you don’t already have Xcode Command Line Tools installed on your Mac, running the installation script for Homebrew will take care of this for you.
To install Homebrew and the Xcode Command Line Tools, follow these instructions.
- First, make sure your copy of macOS is up to date.
On macOS Ventura or later, go to System Settings > General > Software Update.
If you’re on macOS Monterey or earlier, you’ll find this at System Preferences > Software Update.
- Double-check if Homebrew is already installed on your Mac.
From Terminal, type the command brew. If you don’t have Homebrew installed yet, you’ll get a response similar to this:
zsh: command not found: brew
- Once you are sure Homebrew isn’t already installed, you can go ahead with the installation.
Run the following script from Terminal, after checking the Homebrew site to ensure it hasn’t changed.
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"
- After a short wait, you’ll be prompted to enter your account password.
If the Xcode Command Line Tools aren’t installed, you should see a message that they’ll be installed along with the package manager.
Once complete, you’ll have full access to everything Homebrew has to offer, as well as the Xcode Command Line Tools.
Install Xcode Command Line Tools Directly
If you want to install the utilities directly, you can do that, too. First, make sure your macOS installation is up to date, then open the Terminal app.
Once in Terminal, this command will install the Xcode Command Line Tools:
Note that the download is quite large, so the installation might take a while.
Install the Complete Xcode Package
Finally, if you install the complete Xcode package, it will also install the command line tools. This is as easy as installing the software from the Mac App Store.
To perform a full install of Xcode, along with the Xcode Command Line Tools, follow these steps.
- Open the App Store on your Mac and search for Xcode.
- Click Get next to the Xcode listing.
- Once the download is complete, run Xcode from the Applications folder on the Dock.
- Enter your administrator account credentials to finalize everything.
Begin Your Journey Developing Software On Your Mac
Once that’s done, you can begin a wide variety of software development tasks on your Mac. If you’re new to the platform, you may want to familiarize yourself more with the Terminal. Those coming over from Windows, particularly, may not realize the power available from the command line.
Of course, as you do more and more from the command line, you could find yourself outgrowing even what Terminal has to offer. There are, of course, several alternatives that expand on what Apple’s command line app provides.