Top 7 Mac Command-Line Tools Anyone Can Appreciate

David Morelo
Mac O’Clock
Published in
5 min readDec 2, 2022


Warp terminal emulator running Neofetch

The Terminal app in macOS is a gateway to the exciting but potentially intimidating world of command-line interface (CLI) tools. A large collection of such tools is already included with your operating system, allowing you to manage your files, ping a remote host, edit text files, and much more.

While the built-in command-line tools are largely overlooked by most Mac users, who gravitate toward GUI apps, there are some third-party CLI tools that anyone can appreciate and use on a regular basis. Here are my favorite ones.

Note: The screenshots below were created using the Warp terminal emulator app.

1. Homebrew


Install command: /bin/bash -c “$(curl -fsSL"

If there’s just one command-line tool all Mac users should install, it’s Homebrew, a package manager that makes it easy to install new apps and keep them updated.

To start using it, simply paste the install command above into the Terminal app. You can then install just about any app using a simple command:

brew install firefox

Updating all apps installed using Homebrew in one go is as easy as:

brew upgrade

2. ncdu


Homebrew install command: brew install ncdu

Mac storage space is a precious commodity, so you don’t want to waste it on files you don’t need anymore. Yes, there are stunning GUI storage space analyzers like DaisyDisk or GrandPerspective, but you can just as painlessly (and sometimes more quickly) analyze your storage space using the good old ncdu.

Because ncdu doesn’t have a graphical user interface, it can be used to find space hogs even on remote servers (that’s actually what it is designed to do)—try that with DaisyDisk!

3. yt-dlp


Homebrew install command: brew install yt-dlp

There are many ways to download videos from YouTube, and one of them is yt-dlp a command-line downloader based on youtube-dl and youtube-dlc that lets you fully customize your download settings and circumvent geographic restrictions.

It can, for example, download a video in a specific audio/video format, download only a certain section of a video, split a video by chapters, download entire playlists, extract subtitles, and much, much more.

Of course, you can also just download a single video in the best quality available using the following command:

yt-dlp -f 'bv*+ba' “”

4. Taskwarrior


Homebrew install command: brew install taskwarrior-tui

Countless to-do apps have been developed over the years. Their developers are constantly trying to one-up one another when it comes to usability and features, but many of them end up beaten by a command-line tool that’s been around since 2008.

Indeed, Taskwarrior shows that you don’t need a fancy user interface to get things done. You just need a flexible, fast, and unobtrusive solution to keep you on track. To see how tasks can be managed using the command line, I recommend you read the official Getting Started guide.

5. Pandoc


Homebrew install command: brew install pandoc

Do you sometimes need to convert files from one document file format to another? If so, pandoc has you covered. this command-line document converter supports everything from Word processor formats like DOCX and ODT to HTML, PDF, TeX, and ebook formats.

There’s really just one pandoc command you need to know for basic conversions:

pandoc -o output.html input.txt

6. ranger


Homebrew install command: brew install ranger

It’s possible to manage files in the Terminal using commands like cd, ls, and mv, but it can be a slow and frustrating process. Fortunately, there are CLI file managers like ranger. This elegant tool provides a nice interface that makes it easy to browse available directories, select files, and open them using appropriate apps.

I personally use ranger when managing my Raspberry Pi-based home NAS, but there are many people who use it as their main file manager.

7. aria2


Homebrew install command: brew install aria2

aria2 is a lightweight download manager that supports HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent, and Metalink downloads. It’s designed to speed up your downloads by fully utilizing all available bandwidth and prevent large downloads from failing and not being possible to resume.

When used as a BitTorrent client, aria2 barely uses any CPU power, and its memory usage is negligible as well. If you have an aging Mac with not much processing capacity to spare, then this is the downloader to get.

Do you know any command-line tool for Mac that all users can appreciate? Please share it in the comments!



David Morelo
Mac O’Clock

I’m a professional tech writer who likes to help people live their best digital lives.