Getting Started

Installing brew Itself

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

Installing software with brew

Installing Programs

Use the search command to search for a program, and see if it exists on brew (it always does)

brew search wget

Use the install command to download a program

brew install wget

Installing Applications

Use the cask command to install applications directly onto your computer

brew cask install google-chrome
brew cask install microsoft-office
brew cask install java

Multiple Installations with 1 Command

brew install wget watch tree

What all has been installed?

To see a list of programs that were installed by brew, as well as their dependencies, use the list command

brew list


What does this program depend on?

See the dependencies for wget

brew deps wget

What depends on this program?

See all packages that depend on python3

brew uses python3 --installed

What can I uninstall?

List all programs that nothing depends on.

brew leaves

Uninstall a program

brew uninstall wget

Where are my programs & applications installed?

brew will symlink all of the files that you have installed to /usr/local/bin which is automatically part of your ${PATH} variable. Therefore, if you install wget then you can call it directly from your terminal, because the program will execute once it is found at /usr/local/bin/wget

You can get more information than that, however. For instance, the command below shows you where a file was installed

brew --prefix wget

Note that although the returned output is correct, it's truly a symlink to the directory /usr/local/Cellar/wget/0.8.5

Where is brew itself installed?

brew is usually installed at /Users/username/Library/Caches/Homebrew. You can check for yourself by typing

brew --cache

The services Command

Sometimes you want to install an application that needs to run at launch, such as a server. For example, let's install two common database servers, MongoDB and MySQL

# [Install MongoDB & MySQL]
brew install mongodb && brew install mysql
# [Brew service list]
brew services list

Using the services command, brew makes it easy to configure when you want the server to start.

View current server configurations

brew services list

Starting a server

# [Configure the server to always start at runtime]
brew services start mongodb
# [Start the server, but just this once]
brew services run mongodb

Stopping a server

brew services stop mongodb


If you try to install ruby with brew then you will notice it's not in /usr/local/bin like most programs. The reason is because brew doesn't want it to interfere with the native Mac OS version. Instead, it puts it in a different directory called /usr/local/opt. The directories inside of this folder are symlinks to the current version of the binary that's installed. It adds a layer of protection, and makes sure that the version used is always the most current.

Making Your Own Homebrew Packages

So you want to distribute your tools to the masses, yes? Build something super cool that you'd like to share with others? Well luckily that's pretty easy thing to do these days (once you know how). If you've been using brew to install packages, you've probably just been using one master nexus of formulae, known as Homebrew's core tap.

Before we go further, I have to define some terms used in the Homebrew ecosystem:

Formula: A ruby file that outlines how a package is to be installed. Tap: A public repository containing Homebrew formulae. To have a tap named anything, the repository should be called homebrew-anything.

  1. Make a tap repository on GitHub called homebrew-tap
  1. Add a formula for what you want to have installed. As an example, I'm creating a formula called drain.rb. When this formula is used, it will add a command drain to your terminal, which allows you to free up ports that are currently in-use. It will also install the manual file, which can be seen by typing man drain after it is installed.
class Drain < Formula
  desc "A command line tool to free up clogged ports"
  # Every formula needs a homepage
  homepage "https://github.com/austintraver/homebrew-tap/Packages/drain"
  # This is the url pointing to where the file gets downloaded from
  # in this case, it's `./Archive/drain-1.0.tgz` from the repository
  url "https://github.com/austintraver/homebrew-tap/raw/master/Archive/drain-1.0.tgz"
  sha256 "70d98fbe00ac67b8c3a19037c3e53db80b7cc048f60cd479bf74d1073a30463d"
  version "1.0"

  # Here is where you can list dependencies on other Homebrew packages
  depends_on "coreutils"
  depends_on "python"

  # Bottle is currently not needed, (but explained in a section below)
  bottle :unneeded

  def install
    # Add the command "drain" to /usr/local/bin
    bin.install "bin/drain"

    # Add the manual for drain to /usr/local/share/man/man1/drain.1
    man1.install "man/drain.1"



Bottles are pre-compiled binary versions of packages. Installing a program via its bottle is much faster than compiling the files on your local machine. If you have a package that you would like to build a bottle for, you can follow along the following process.

In this example, we're going to assume that you've created a formula that installs gcc on macOS, as gcc takes notoriously long to build locally (upwards of 45 minutes).

After the previous step, you'll have a file gcc--9.2.catalina.bottle.tar.gz in your present working directory. Assuming you want to keep the bottle as part of your tap, put it in the folder ./homebrew-tap/Bottles/.

Next, you'll need to add the output from the bottling command to your recipe. The sha256 value represents the checksum of the archive you just created. You can verify that it matches the bottle file with sha -a 256 ./path/to/bottle.tar.gz

Next, we'll need to actually add the file to the repository. Since this is a binary file, we shouldn't perform a traditional git add as we would for a traditional file. We'll be using the lfs subcommand for git. This is an extension of git supported by GitHub for large file storage. You can add it with brew install git-lfs or apt install git-lfs.