I am using the open command from the Terminal to open an app bundle and would like to pass a command line argument through to the underlying executable.

Is this possible with the open command?

The reason I am using the open command at all here is that it doesn't tie up a Terminal window to support the launched process. Are there alternate ways to do this other than the open command ?

More Information:

The application I am looking to run is an open source visualization program (Paraview) which I have compiled myself. I know that the basic executable does indeed take command line args. The executable itself is located inside the app bundle paraview.app/Contents/MacOS/paraview.

  • Can you give more details about which app(s) you're launching? Different apps will deal with command line arguments differently (some will probably just ignore them). Aug 26, 2010 at 15:05
  • @Doug Harris - I've added some more info to the question. Thanks.
    – dtlussier
    Aug 26, 2010 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


As per $man open, you might be successful with $open MyApp.app --args argument1

Of course, you could always just run the executable directly and follow your command with an ampersand—that'll background it.

$/path/to/My.app/Contents/MacOS/executable argument &

  • 1
    Looks like --args is a new option in 10.6.
    – dtlussier
    Aug 26, 2010 at 17:02
  • 5
    Following the command with & does indeed put it into the background, but the process remains a child of the shell in which it was created. Avoiding this is one of the advantages of open.
    – dtlussier
    Aug 26, 2010 at 17:02
  • Ah, excellent point--I wasn't aware of that behavior for GUI apps.
    – NReilingh
    Aug 26, 2010 at 17:48

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