Command Line Tricks in Mac OS X

The world of the Unix command line is rich and complex. Even experienced users are always finding new features and tricks. Drew McCormack at found some and posted them on Monday.

"It never ceases to amaze me how much I still have to learn about the innards of Mac OS X," Mr. McCormack wrote. "It seems like I am always coming across new tools that I never knew existed, many of which have been in the system for many years. So I thought I would share a few of the command-line tools and tricks that have surprised me at some point, in the hope that some of you may also have a moment of enlightenment."

In summary, the command line functions are:

  1. Sips. Image data can be manipulated and file types converted on the command line.
  2. Textutil. Like sips, textutil can be used to convert between various types of documents.
  3. Mdfind. Spotlight can actually be used on the command line and is actually more powerful.
  4. Plutil. Convert Appleis binary property lists back to human readable text.
  5. Pbcopy and Pbpaste. One can actually copy and paste from the command line.

TMO notes that while the functionality of all these commands exist in simple GUI utilities, they can come in very handy when one is writing, say, a Perl or Python script, and the coder wants to introduce some high level, convenient behavior into the software.

More details are at