Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am on a MacBook Pro, running the latest version of Mountain Lion.

I really need some help, I have managed some how to damage my .bash_profile (I think) so that every time I open up the terminal I get the error listed below.

-bash: export: `/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/go/bin': not a valid identifier
-bash: export: `/Users/rob/Applications/sbt/bin:': not a valid identifier
env: bash: No such file or directory
env: bash: No such file or directory
env: bash: No such file or directory
env: bash: No such file or directory
env: bash: No such file or directory
-bash: tar: command not found
-bash: grep: command not found
-bash: cat: command not found
-bash: find: command not found

I am not sure what has happened, I have no sudo, cd or any normal commands. The only way I have been able to get to any of the main directories is through the go to folder command in finder and try to find the file to no avail.

To top it all off I think I created a file that might be causing the issue, I wanted to edit the .bash_profile so I typed

sudo nano ./bash_profile

This open a new file in nano which I think was then saved. After this I opened the real .bash_profile to add in the path for node.js.

If I can get to the .bash_profile I think I can get it back on track but I can't find it, should I reinstall bash? If so how would I do that on a mac, I tried using

brew install bash

to which I get

-bash: brew: command not found

I am really stuck if anyone can help I would be really appreciated.

Many thanks

share|improve this question

migrated from Nov 2 '12 at 10:06

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

First thing I would try is change to a different shell to be able to sort out the problem: see here on how to do that This should enable you to modify / remove the offending file and change the shell back to bash. – Gjallar Nov 2 '12 at 9:52
Thank you, I have tried reinstalling bash but the only thing that has changed is that -bash: export: '/Users/rob/Applications/sbt/bin:': not a valid identifier has gone. The one thing I am struggling with is were the first line might be stored, I have looked in my .bash_profile, .profile and .bashrc but nothing. – Strangeone Nov 2 '12 at 11:16
Ok so I added /usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/go/bin to my .bash_profile and it seems to have fixed bash but I still get this error -bash: export: '/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/go/bin': not a valid identifier Any ideas? – Strangeone Nov 2 '12 at 11:24
Can you try the following: PATH="/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/go/bin:$PATH" # Make sure to use double quotes not single quotes And on a new line export PATH. – Gjallar Nov 2 '12 at 11:32
Thank you, that seems to have worked. Please can I just ask why you thought that would work? – Strangeone Nov 2 '12 at 11:45
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Just putting all my comments together for an answer:

First thing you should do is change the shell, this way you can set a shell that will not load the bash init-scripts (.bashrc, .bash_profile) - how to do this for the Mac OS X terminal app can be seen here: Apple Support

Now you should be able to open a terminal again and use your favourite command-line editor to open the .bash_profile file (e.g. nano or vi):

In this file you have to reset your PATH variable that is used by the terminal to find the programs it can execute.

This can be done with the following two lines:

PATH="/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin:/usr/local/bin:$PATH" # Make sure to use double quotes not single quotes And on a new line 
export PATH

This will first set the directories that you want to have on your PATH and the export this PATH to make it available to all programs started from this shell (via export).

share|improve this answer

⇧⌘. shows hidden files in file dialogs. You could try opening ~/.bash_profile with TextEdit and making it blank temporarily.

share|improve this answer
+1 for the useful keyboard shortcut I didn't know :) – Michel Apr 22 '13 at 14:57

I know this is an old thread but just wanted to leave here my solution in the hope someone else happens to have the same issue.

When I ran terminal from MacOS it was ok with my own user, but when changed to sudo it couldn't work (command not found).

I ended up fixing it with:

nano ~/.bashrc

Just removed the path that was causing the error. Restarted the terminal and everything is working fine now.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .