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How to Use Terminal to Display UNIX on Your Mac

OS X is built on top of UNIX. The application Terminal takes you from the outer world of OS X to the inner world of UNIX. Terminal is located in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder.

To open Terminal, double-click the Terminal icon, and you see a window like the one shown in the figure. The window is labeled Terminal — bash — 80×24.

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Here’s a rundown of what you see in the Terminal window:

  • The last number indicates that the window holds 24 lines, each 80 monospaced characters long.

  • Drag the lower-right corner of the window and you can make it bigger or smaller.

  • The word bash in the window label is the name of the UNIX program attending you, something that the UNIX world calls a shell. It’s much like the Windows XP command interpreter, cmd.exe.

  • The $ character in the Terminal window is the bash prompt — Windows uses a right-facing arrow (>) for its prompt. Type anything at the prompt. Press Return and the shell program — bash by default in OS X — tries to carry out your wishes.