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Level up with “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal”

It’s easy to forget that OS X is based on Unix, but those in the know often drop to the Unix command line for tasks that are difficult or impossible to accomplish in the Mac’s graphical interface. Six years ago, Joe Kissell penned “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal,” a book designed to help readers become comfortable on the command line. Today we’re pleased to bring you the second edition of this essential reference. It’s 167 pages, for $15.

If you’ve ever thought you should learn how to use the Mac’s command line, or worried about doing something wrong while following command-line-related instructions in an article or from the Web, “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal” will give you the skills and confidence you need to make your Mac even more capable than ever before.

Written from a Mac user’s point of view, the book starts with command-line fundamentals, helps you set up an environment that will work for you, and walks you through more advanced topics as your knowledge increases. Advanced topics include instructions for carrying out more complex tasks such as SSH-ing to a remote computer, transferring files via SFTP and scp, handling permissions, logging in as root, installing Unix software, grappling with grep, and writing shell scripts that contain logic.

Finally, to help you put it all together, “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal” showcases 52 real-world “recipes” that combine commands to perform useful tasks, such as listing users who’ve logged in recently, copying text from Quick Look, using a separate FileVault password, figuring out why a disk won’t eject, copying the source code of a Web page, determining which apps have open connections to the Internet, flushing the DNS cache, finding out why a Mac won’t sleep, sending an SMS message, and deleting stubborn items from the Trash.

Working at the command line often goes hand-in-hand with a general desire to work efficiently, so we wanted to mention that Joe also recently updated “Take Control of Automating Your Mac” to freshen it for 10.10 Yosemite. This 199-page title discusses the Mac’s built-in automation features, various popular automation apps (including a chapter about the macro utility Keyboard Maestro), and special Apple tools like Automator and AppleScript. It also comes with discounts on Keyboard Maestro, LaunchBar, Hazel, Nisus Writer Pro, TextExpander, TextSoap, TypeIt4Me, and Typinator. You can buy both books for 20 percent off, dropping the price to only $24.

Whether you want to approach the Mac command line with confidence, or you want to set up some serious automation to make your work more accurate and less repetitive, these books will put you in control!


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Special thanks to Steven Rood-Ojalvo, Curt Hess, Linda McNeil, and
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Comments about Level up with “Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal”
(Comments are closed.)

TattooedMac  2015-04-25 11:28
This is by far the best damn reference for anyone to get a grip with Terminal. TBH, if I didn't have the Take Control of the Mac Command Line with Terminal, I wouldn't be where I am today, and know what I do today, if it wasn't for Joe Kissell.

I am not intimidated by the command line anymore, and it is all thanks to this great little book. If you need a head start and don't know where to start, then do yourself a BIG favour, and drop down the $ for this gem, and never be scared again.

Well done Joe, this is the 12th TC Book, in my Library, and you never leave us hanging on anything Mac :)
Larry McElhiney  2015-04-28 09:31
I started using the UNIX command line in the late 1970s and am happy with the improvements that Apple has made to the UNIX system that sits under the OS X GUI. Even as an experienced command line interface (CLI) user, I found tremendous value in Kissell's introductory section. I use the CLI on my Linux machines and have CYGWIN installed on my Windows devices to enhance the usability there.

Of course, with Apple's shift to BASH as the default shell, a few years ago, the commonality of my CLI-experiences among the different operating systems has been significantly enhanced.

Kissell's focus with the mechanics, at first, might seem something to skim over, but spending a few minutes to try out some of the options for setting up a window can really help. In addition, I was able to set up my favorite "theme" Ocean, which has a blue background with white letters--a favorite from my SCO Xenix days.

UNIX has lots of ttys available in /dev, so you can open many functional UNIX windows.
Dave Vaklyes  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2015-04-28 13:22
Just a little nitpick - OS X is not "based on UNIX". OS X is UNIX. It is one of a very few OS versions certified as meeting the UNIX 03 standard as listed by The Open Group at Apple is the largest installed base of UNIX in the world.

All the more reason to get this book!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2015-04-28 13:56
Cool - I had no idea it was actually certified like that!