Using custom shell scripts on OSX or Linux

Custom shell scripts allow you to do pretty much anything. Here's a short tutorial on how to set up either OSX or Linux so you can use custom shell scripts on your system.

Configuring your environment

I’m assuming here that you are on a POSIX compliant system (namely OSX or Linux). First let’s make sure we are in our home directory. On OSX or Linux in a terminal run:


Standard practice is to keep user shell scripts in a bin folder in your home directory. You may or may not have this folder depending on your operating system. If it doesn’t exist create it:

mkdir bin

So on OSX the folder path will be /Users/george/bin. On Linux it will be /home/george/bin. Remember ‘george’ will be whatever your username is.

Ensuring bin is in your path

To be able to use the shell scripts from our bin folder we need to make sure that this folder is in the $PATH variable. The shell looks in this folder when you issue a command.

If you are comfortable with vi use these commands. If you are not comfortable with vi use your text editor of choice.

cd #change to home directory
vi .bash_profile

Add the following line to this file


For the changes to take effect you need to reload your profile. I’m assuming you are still in your home directory.

source ~/.bash_profile

Adding scripts

Now we can just drop shell scripts into the bin folder. To use them we must make sure they are executable: chmod +x

That’s it. Now you can call your shell script from the command line using


Can you help make this article better? You can edit it here and send me a pull request.

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