I was wondering which file I should place this bash command in so it will be run on startup.

# Start the MongoDB server
/Applications/MongoDB/bin/mongod --dbpath /usr/local/mongo/data --fork --logpath /usr/local/mongo/log

I have been scouring the net and think it is between ~/.bashrc, ~/profile, /etc/bashrc, /etc/profile or ~/.bash_profile. Although I have tried these and they seem to run on terminal startup not Mac startup. Am I missing a file?

12 Answers 12


Officially none of these. The Apple suggested way is to use launchd. Guis to set this up include lingon and Launch Control

As for the files you mention the ones in the home directory ~/.bashrc, ~/profile, ~/.bash_profile are only started when you login via a terminal. The ones in /etc are run by the shell starting for all users before the ones in home directory but only when a user login is made.. bash manual

The Unix startup script involved /etc/rc* but for OSX just use the launchd stuff

  • 1
    So if my command is inserted in either of the files in /etc it should be run on bootup? Does it matter what one it is in?
    – Wolfy87
    Jan 6, 2011 at 11:45
  • 1
    /etc/bashrc and so on are run when you start a shell, just like ~/.bashrc - it's just that the former will be run whenever any user starts a shell, rather than just your user.
    – Scott
    Jan 6, 2011 at 12:07
  • @Scott is correct I have corrected my answer
    – mmmmmm
    Jan 6, 2011 at 12:14
  • 4
    Okay, but I just can't work out how to use launchd, I tried making a plist file for my program but I have no idea how to run it or how to get it to run on boot.
    – Wolfy87
    Jan 6, 2011 at 12:27
  • 1
    @Mark link to "launchd" is broken :(
    – Artem
    Nov 7, 2016 at 5:10

Another simple solution from Stack Overflow: You can:

  • Start Automator.app;
  • Select "Application";
  • Click "Show library" in the toolbar (if hidden);
  • Add "Run shell script" (from the Actions/Utilities);
  • Copy-and-paste your script into the window;
  • Test it;
  • Save it somewhere: a file called your_name.app will be created);
  • Depending your MacOSX version:
    • Old versions: Go to System Preferences → Accounts → Login items, or
    • Before Ventura version: Go to System Preferences → Users and Groups → Login items (top right), or
    • Ventura and after version: Go to System Preferences → General → Login items;
  • Add this newly-created app;

Log off, log back in, and you should be done. ;)

  • 5
    Tested and works and it does not require launchd cumbersome plist editing nor paid Lingon app.
    – Lukasz
    Oct 2, 2012 at 8:13
  • 7
    It does, however, add about 1804k of boilerplate to your three line shellscript! Sep 16, 2015 at 14:06
  • 1
    Thanks for the detailed instructions on making something useful with Automator. This will help me not just with the one task. Thank you kindly Jaime. I'm using it to turn off Turbo Boost via Turbo Boost Switcher. I own the pay version but the licensing mechanics are awful enough I prefer to use the free version which requires launch via terminal to avoid requests for admin password on every wake from sleep. Oct 22, 2016 at 23:33
  • 2
    @android.weasel See Geekarist's answer superuser.com/a/995564/255375
    – J.D.
    Jan 16, 2017 at 14:59
  • 1
    Superuse-ful :-D, +1
    – Mukul Goel
    Jul 10, 2017 at 11:04

To run a command on start up on OS X, you need to use launchd.

If you don't want to use Lingon, you need to create a launchd Property List. This is an XML file, so you can do it with your favourite text editor or alternatively you can use the Property List Editor that's installed with the Mac OS X Dev Tools. Create the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
    <string>some.meaningful.name</string> <!-- org.mongodb.mongodb perhaps? -->





Save this in /Library/LaunchAgents/some.meaningful.name.plist (you will need an administrator account and/or sudo), then open a terminal and do:

sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchAgents/some.meaningful.name.plist

This will cause launchd to load the item which will cause it to start MongoDB on boot. As a bonus, launchd will monitor it and, if it exits for any reason, it will be re-started. To get rid of the item simply replace load in the above command with unload.

  • 2
    This page (developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/Darwin/Reference/…) lists a lot of things something launched by launchd should not do. If I want to run an arbitrary command at startup I may not have control of and the command may wind up doing those things. In addition, I may not want launchd to restart and item that stops because it's a one-off or handles re-launching on its own. What should I do in these cases?
    – Michael
    Nov 8, 2013 at 22:17
  • @Scott, thank you. This is the most helpful answer I found on the internet.
    – Dmitriy
    Feb 10, 2014 at 15:04
  • 13
    This will attempt to run the application every 10 seconds, which works well for services that don't die. If this is for a script that runs once punctually (in my case, messaging once Slack on reboot) add <key>LaunchOnlyOnce</key><true/> to the dict.
    – msanford
    Apr 12, 2016 at 17:17
  • Great point Mr Sanford. launchd which doesn't give up creates huge log files which then slow your Mac (due to reading and writing such large log files continually). I may use that fix on some of the badly written commercial software running on my computer now. Oct 22, 2016 at 23:52
  • 1
    Note to self: If you need environment variables: serverfault.com/questions/111391/…
    – Quandary
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:07

To launch commands when logging in, you can do this:

  • Create a text file containing your commands (bash script):

    # Start the MongoDB server
    /Applications/MongoDB/bin/mongod --dbpath /usr/local/mongo/data --fork --logpath /usr/local/mongo/log
  • Save this file in ~/Library/Startup.cmd

  • You can test it by double-clicking the file in the Finder
  • Make it executable: chmod +x ~/Library/Startup.cmd
  • Add this file in System Preferences > Accounts > Login items
  • 6
    best and easiest answer imho. much easier than accepted solution. note that it's in System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login items ... (not Accounts)... and also note that the file can be anywhere, doesn't have to end with .cmd either. just chmod +x it.
    – foreyez
    Aug 8, 2016 at 3:01
  • 7
    However, login items run at login, not at system startup. If you run a server, that's a big difference.
    – not2savvy
    Jul 14, 2017 at 15:40
  • 5
    Why ends with cmd instead of sh?
    – Cloud
    May 20, 2018 at 6:44
  • 2
    Whether your Library script path ends in cmd or sh, this won't necessarily actually execute the script, when invoked in this fashion. In my case (macOS 10.15.4 Catalina), it opens it in XCode (sh) or Visual Studio Code (cmd) instead, which obviously isn't useful.
    – ecmanaut
    Apr 18, 2020 at 20:45
  • 5
    This only works when you have associated cmd or sh with the Terminal app in macOS! In my cas my script ended with .sh and that extension was associated with Xcode. On every login, the file was opened in Xcode instead of being executed. After changing the application association in Finder, it worked fine.
    – fabb
    Sep 10, 2020 at 5:38

If you want an approach that will work on Linux & Mac OS X, a cron task should should be sufficient (edit your cron tasks by executing crontab -e):

@reboot /path/to/script

(credits: https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/49207/how-do-i-set-a-script-that-it-will-run-on-start-up-in-freebsd)

  • This is really cool! Means a simple way to run scripts on startup (that Apple haven't messed with). Thanks! Dec 30, 2020 at 22:12
  • 1
    Enjoy it while it lasts. Apple have deprecated crontab :( hopefully Homebrew will have a community edition that works the same way Dec 31, 2020 at 17:16
  • 1
    Oh dear - they (Apple) just seem to chip away at the Unix-ness of their Unix based OS..... Thanks for the heads-up though Jan 1, 2021 at 21:00

You will have to look at how launchd and launchctl work on MacOS. You could start by reading the man pages for both the commands. You could then look inside /Library/LaunchAgents/ and /Library/LaunchDaemons/ for examples of how to set up applications to load at different times through the launchctl interface.

Here's an example I found on Stack Overflow that might help you further.


Although I do not find the answers that are asking you to add the call in .bash_profile or .bashrc acceptable, they could work imho.

You could right click on your Terminal Icon when on Dock, Select Options > Open at login.

I have an auto-login VPN script for work. I need to open Terminal too when working. So I prefer it automatically launches at startup and I used .bashrc to run my vpn script automatically.

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  • There is one answer suggesting that, which has -4 votes; for good reasons: when placed in .bashrc or .bash_profile the service would start every time you open a terminal window or login elsewhere. Feb 24, 2022 at 15:43

I was interested in a very simple unix answer to this problem and found it at another site. Here is a summary of the solution.

The standard for login shells is to always look for the bash configuration files with "profile" in the name, in this order: /etc/profile, ~/.bash_profile, then ~/.bash_login and lastly ~/.profile. When login shells exit, they read ~/.bash_logout.

In my case I just created the ~/.bash_profile and then I opened the preferences for the Mac Terminal app and changed the "Shell opens with" option from default to /bin/bash. That's it. Clean and simple.


You could use crontab:

First, create a script somewhere (let's say /path/to/script.sh) and type the command you wanted to run there. Then type chmod +x /path/to/script.sh.

Now, in the Terminal:

EDITOR=nano crontab -e

You will be presented with a text editor in the terminal.

Type in the file:

@reboot /path/to/script.sh

Hit Ctrl + X, hit y, and hit enter, and on the next boot, this will run!

If you wanted to run a command in the background, simply add an & after the command in the script.


This answer explains how to run a command on at login and is based on Geekarist's answer. Here, the script is wrapped in an AppleScript application. AppleScript was chosen over a workflow, because the Script Editor application does not overwrite manual changes made to an applications Info.plist file, where as the Automator application does. Wrapping the script in an application also allows the user to customize privacy settings. If the script exits with a non-zero status, then the application shows a popup window with an error message. Otherwise, no other windows are shown.

Steps are given below.

  1. Use the Script Editor application to create a application containing the line given below.

    do shell script quoted form of (POSIX path of (path to me) & "Contents/Resources/Startup.sh")
  2. Save the application to your ~/Applications folder. (If this folder does not exist, then create the folder.) Here, I will name the application "My Agent". You may choose a different name.

  3. Create a file named Startup.sh in My Agent application's Contents/Resources folder. Place the script in the file. A copy of the script from Geekarist's answer is given below.

    # Start the MongoDB server
    /Applications/MongoDB/bin/mongod --dbpath /usr/local/mongo/data --fork --logpath /usr/local/mongo/log
  4. Enter the command given below to make Startup.sh executable.

    chmod +x ~/Applications/My\ Agent.app/Contents/Resources/Startup.sh
  5. Make the My Agent application an agent. This will prevent (amongst other things) the My Agent application from appearing on the dock while executing at startup.

    /usr/libexec/PlistBuddy -c "Add :LSUIElement bool true" ~/Applications/My\ Agent.app/Contents/Info.plist

    The above command adds the following lines to My Agent application's Info.plist file.

  6. Open the My Agent application in the Script Editor application. Compile the script, save and quit. This is necessary, because the Info.plist file was manually changed in the previous step.

  7. Add the My Agent application to the user login items.


Open Terminal app select Terminal preferences go to profiles select Profiles Under Startup enter source path to script script Name

  • 2
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    – Community Bot
    Aug 5, 2022 at 21:16

open terminal, type

nano ~/.bash_profile

then add this text to the file:

/Applications/MongoDB/bin/mongod --dbpath /usr/local/mongo/data --fork logpath /usr/local/mongo/log
  • 4
    This would assume you open a Terminal window after logging in.
    – Arjan
    Mar 11, 2017 at 7:42

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