This is what I get when I try to start the executable:

Mac-Pro:MacOS george$ /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox
dyld: Library not loaded: /usr/lib/libsqlite3.dylib
  Referenced from: /System/Library/Frameworks/Security.framework/Versions/A/Security
  Reason: Incompatible library version: Security requires version 9.0.0 or later, but libsqlite3.dylib provides version 1.0.0
/Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/run-mozilla.sh: line 131:  9870 Trace/BPT trap          "$prog" ${1+"$@"}

I also tried:

MacOS george$ open -a /Applications/Firefox

FSPathMakeRef(/Applications/Firefox) failed with error -43.

Is there a particular way to start the application from the command line?

4 Answers 4


The problem with your second attempt is that your path does not include the .app extenstion.

Try using either

open -a /Applications/Firefox.app


open /Applications/Firefox.app
  • Correct. I verified. The "old hit tab key to autocomplete trick" fixes that one for me.
    – Grady Player
    Apr 29, 2011 at 21:48
  • 4
    open -a Firefox works just as well (unless you have multiple instances of the same program installed).
    – Daniel Beck
    May 1, 2011 at 0:35

These examples will open Firefox, open a specific website, or browse your user's home directory.

open -a firefox
open -a firefox -g http://news.google.com
open -a firefox -g $HOME
  • 4
    If anyone is wondering about -g, it opens an application on the background, so that it will either be placed behind the frontmost application or have no visible windows.
    – Lri
    Sep 19, 2012 at 11:16
  • Much better than accepted answer, this one is easy to remember! By analogy: open -a 'Google Chrome' or open -a 'Brave Browser' May 17, 2022 at 15:00
  • Opening a specific website only seems to work if you use -g. Omitting -g will make firefox open but not go to the site.
    – dgrogan
    Mar 25, 2023 at 0:45

You want to run /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin

  • 2
    You can also use /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox without the -bin. To open a new tab in an existing window you can do /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox --new-tab https://mail.google.com. To see other options, use /Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox --help
    – SgtPooki
    Nov 4, 2020 at 6:30

I know this question is old but maybe this answer could be helpful. You could also add

alias firefox="/Applications/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox"

to your ~/.zshrc file. If you do not use zshell your preferred startup script will have a different name. When the next shell instance is started (or you executed source ~/.zshrc) you can open Firefox by typing


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