How to Install Homebrew on Mac
Simple Command line interface on macOS has a lot of the functionality, you’d find in Linux and other Unix systems

Homebrew is a macOS package manager built on ruby and git. Homebrew will help you easily install and manage a variety packages and applications. This guide will show you how to install Homebrew on your mac.

Table of Contents
Prerequisites

You will need a macOS computer running Catalina or higher with administrative access and an internet connection. While older versions of macOS may work, they are not officially supported.

Step 1 — Using the macOS Terminal

To access the command line interface on your Mac, you’ll use the Terminal application provided by macOS. Like any other application, you can find it by going into Finder, navigating to Application folder, and then into the Utilities folder. From here, double-click the Terminal application to open it up. Alternatively, you can use Spotlight by holding down the COMMAND key and pressing SPACE to find Terminal by typing it out in the box that appears.

Now that you have the Terminal running, let’s install some additional tools that Homebrew needs.

Step 2 — Installing Xcode’s Command Line Tools

Xcode is an integrated development environment (IDE) that is comprised of software development tools for macOS. You won’t need Xcode to use Homebrew, but some of the software and components you’ll want to install will rely on Xcode’s Command Line Tools package.

Execute the following command in the Terminal to download and install these components:

				
					xcode-select --install
				
			

You’ll be prompted to start the installation, and then prompted again to accept a software license. Then the tools will download and install automatically.

You can now install Homebrew.

Step 3 — Installing and Setting Up Homebrew

To install Homebrew, you’ll download an installation script and then execute the script.

First, download the script to your local machine by typing the following command in your Terminal window:

				
					curl -fsSL -o install.sh https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh
				
			

The command uses curl to download the Homebrew installation script from Homebrew’s Git repository on GitHub.

Let’s walk through the flags that are associated with the curl command:

  • The –f or --fail flag tells the Terminal window to give no HTML document output on server errors.
  • The -s or --silent flag mutes curl so that it does not show the progress meter, and combined with the -S or --show-error flag it will ensure that curl shows an error message if it fails.
  • The -L or --location flag will tell curl to handle redirects. If the server reports that the requested page has moved to a different location, it’ll automatically execute the request again using the new location
  • The -o switch specifies a local filename for the file. Rather than displaying the contents to the screen, the -o switch saves the contents into the file you specify.

Before running a script you’ve download from the Internet, you should review its contents so you know what the script will do. Use the less command to review the installation script so you understand what it will do.

				
					less install.sh
				
			

Once you’re comfortable with the contents of the script, execute the script with the bash command:

				
					/bin/bash install.sh
				
			

The installation script will explain what it will do and will prompt you to confirm that you want to do it. This lets you know exactly what Homebrew is going to do to your system before you let it proceed. It also ensures you have the prerequisites in place before it continues.

You’ll be prompted to enter your password during the process. However, when you type your password, your keystrokes will not display in the Terminal window. This is a security measure and is something you’ll see often when prompted for passwords on the command line. Even though you don’t see them, your keystrokes are being recorded by the system, so press the RETURN key once you’ve entered your password.

Press the letter y for “yes” whenever you are prompted to confirm the installation.

Once the installation process is complete, you will want to put the directory Homebrew uses to store its executables at the front of the PATH environment variable. This ensures that Homebrew installations will be called over the tools that macOS includes.
The file you’ll modify depends on which shell you’re using. ZSH is the default shell on macOS Mojave and higher. The Bash shell is a popular shell that older versions of macOS used as the default, and if you’ve upgraded your OS, you may still be using Bash.

Execute the following command to determine your shell:

				
					echo $0
				
			

You’ll see either bash or zsh

If you’re using ZSH, you’ll open the file ~/.zshrc in your editor:

				
					nano ~/.zshrc
				
			
If you’re using the Bash shell, you’ll use the file ~/.bash_profile
				
					nano ~/.bash_profile
				
			
Once the file opens up in the Terminal window, add the following lines to the end of the file:
				
					# Add Homebrew's executable directory to the front of the PATH
export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH
				
			

The first line is a comment that will help you remember what this does if you open this file in the future.

To save your changes, hold down the CTRL key and the letter O, and when prompted, press the RETURN key. Then exit the editor by holding the CTRL key and pressing X. This will return you to your Terminal prompt.

To activate these changes, close and reopen your Terminal app. Alternatively, use the source command to load the file you modified.

If you modified .zshrc, execute this command:

				
					source ~/.zshrc
				
			
If you modified .bash_profile, execute this command:
				
					source ~/.bash_profile
				
			

Once you have done this, the changes you have made to the PATH environment variable will take effect. They’ll be set correctly when you log in again in the future, as the configuration file for your shell is executed automatically when you open the Terminal app.

Now let’s verify that Homebrew is set up correctly. Execute this command:

				
					brew doctor
				
			
If no updates are required at this time, you’ll see this in your Terminal:
				
					Output
Your system is ready to brew.
				
			
Otherwise, you may get a warning to run another command such as brew update to ensure that your installation of Homebrew is up to date. Follow any on-screen instructions to fix your environment before moving on.
Step 4 — Installing, Upgrading, and Removing Packages

Now that Homebrew is installed, use it to download a package. The tree command lets you see a graphical directory tree and is available via Homebrew.

Install tree with the brew install command:

				
					brew install tree
				
			
Homebrew will update its list of packages and then download and install the tree command:
				
					Output
Updating Homebrew...

==> Downloading https://homebrew.bintray.com/bottles/tree-1.8.0.catalina.bottle.tar.gz
######################################################################## 100.0%
==> Pouring tree-1.8.0.catalina.bottle.tar.gz
🍺  /usr/local/Cellar/tree/1.8.0: 8 files, 117.2KB
				
			

Homebrew installs files to /usr/local by default, so they won’t interfere with future macOS updates.

Verify that tree is installed by displaying the command’s location with the which command:

				
					which tree
				
			
The output shows that tree is located in /usr/local/bin :
				
					Output
/usr/local/bin/tree
				
			
Run the tree command to see the version:
				
					tree --version
				
			
If you want to upgrade an existing package. Use the brew upgrade command, followed by the package name:
				
					brew upgrade tree
				
			

You can run brew upgrade with no additional arguments to upgrade all programs and packages Homebrew manages.

When you install a new version, Homebrew keeps the older version around. After a while, you might want to reclaim disk space by removing these older copies. Run brew cleanup to remove all old versions of your Homebrew-managed software.

To remove a package you’re no longer using, use brew uninstall. To uninstall the tree command, execute this command:

				
					brew uninstall tree
				
			
The output shows that the package was removed:
				
					Output
Uninstalling /usr/local/Cellar/tree/1.8.0... (8 files, 117.2KB)
				
			
Step 5 — Installing Desktop Applications

You’re not restricted to using Homebrew for command-line tools. Homebrew Cask lets you install desktop applications. This feature is included with Homebrew, so there’s nothing additional to install.

Test it out by using Homebrew to install Visual Studio Code. Execute the following command in your terminal:

				
					brew install visual-studio-code
				
			

You’ll find the application in your Applications folder, just as if you’d installed it manually.

To remove it, use brew uninstall:

				
					brew uninstall visual-studio-code
				
			

Homebrew will remove the installed software. It performs a backup first in case the removal fails, but once the program is fully uninstalled, the backup is removed as well.

Step 6 — Uninstalling Homebrew

If you no longer need Homebrew, you can use it’s uninstall script.

Download the uninstall script with curl:

				
					curl -fsSL -o uninstall.sh https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/uninstall.sh
				
			
As always, review the contents of the script with the less command to verify the script’s contents:
				
					less uninstall.sh
				
			
Once you’ve verified the script, execute the script with the --help flag to see the various options you can use:
				
					bash uninstall.sh --help
				
			
The options display on the screen:
				
					Output
Homebrew Uninstaller
Usage: uninstall.sh [options]
    -p, --path=PATH  Sets Homebrew prefix. Defaults to /usr/local.
        --skip-cache-and-logs
                     Skips removal of HOMEBREW_CACHE and HOMEBREW_LOGS.
    -f, --force      Uninstall without prompting.
    -q, --quiet      Suppress all output.
    -d, --dry-run    Simulate uninstall but don't remove anything.
    -h, --help       Display this message.
				
			
Use the -d flag to see what the script will do:
				
					bash uninstall.sh -d
				
			

The script will list everything it will delete.

When you’re ready to remove everything, execute the script without any flags:

				
					bash uninstall.sh
				
			
This removes Homebrew and any programs you’ve installed with it.
Conclusion

In this tutorial you installed and used Homebrew on your Mac. You can now use Homebrew to install command line tools, programming languages, and other utilities you’ll need for software development.

Homebrew has many packages you can install. Visit the official list to search for your favorite programs.

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