How to open applications from the Terminal on Mac

An alias allows you to associate a command with a custom name. One use of aliases is to add a shortcut to launch an application.

Step 1: What shell am I using?

First we need to find out which shell you are using. Launch the Terminal from /Applications/Utilities and run:

echo $SHELL

If the above returns /bin/zsh your shell is zsh, if /bin/bash is returned your shell is bash.

Step 2: Open the shells configuration file

We will add our aliases to the shells configuration file using nano. Nano is a simple command line editor.

To open your shell configuration file run:

#zsh
nano ~/.zshrc

#bash
nano ~/.bashrc

If this file does not exist, create it by running:

#zsh
touch ~/.zshrc

#bash
touch ~/.bashrc

Step 3: Add an alias

We are now ready to add an aliases. For example, to use 'vsc' to open Visual Studio Code add:

alias vsc="open -a Visual \Studio \Code"

Once you have finished, use ^X to exit nano.

Step 4: Refresh shell environment

You'll need to refresh the shell environment for the alias to take effect.

#zsh
source ~/.zshrc

#bash
source ~/.bashrc