I just installed Homebrew on bash on my Mac and now I need to do this:

Once you’ve installed Homebrew, insert the Homebrew directory at the top of your PATH environment variable. You can do this by adding the following line at the bottom of your ~/.bashrc file.

export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

"ls -a" shows .bash_profile and .bashrc.save.

Do I add this line to .bash_profile? How?

Sorry. I'm new to everything.


4 Answers 4


You can run this command in Terminal, which will append the line to your .bash_profile:

echo 'export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH' >>~/.bash_profile
  • 26
    haha - just be sure to use two carats >> instead of one >. Had a friend just completely wipe mine by accident trying to append.
    – ryantuck
    Apr 10, 2015 at 16:25
  • How can I update existing export in a bash_profile?
    – Himalay
    Jan 7, 2019 at 4:56
  • 2
    @ryantuck friends are the worst..
    – andschar
    Oct 2, 2020 at 15:15

.bash_profile is a script that is executed each time you start a new shell. On Linux, it's called under different circumstances than .bashrc, but on OS X, they work exactly the same way. Any command you add to the file will be run whenever you open a new terminal window (thus starting a new interactive shell).

$PATH is a variable that tells the shell where to look for executable files - so when you type a command, the system will search each directory specified in that variable until it finds an executable program with that command's name.

The command export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH prepends the directory /usr/local/bin to the current PATH, so it becomes the first directory searched by the shell.

.bash_profile just a normal plain text file - you can edit it with any text editor, including vi or nano, or even a graphical editor like TextEdit. It's up to you - just remember to save it as a plain-text file.


open .bash_profile with your favorite tekst editor

for example you can use 'vi'

open your terminal and make sure you are in your home directory

type vi .bash_profile and press enter

in vi, type i to be able to type

enter your line

press escape

hold shift and press z twice (z z) to save and quit

that's it!

  • Nice you explained how to exit Vi :D
    – smonff
    May 3, 2019 at 10:24

How to add a line to .bash_profile?

Open the TextEdit app. Its like Notepad on Windows.

Navigate to File → Open.... In the center drop down, be sure to select Home. Or, select the Home directory in the left pane. Then, use COMMAND+SHIFT+. to show hidden files:

enter image description here

Select .bash_profile and edit away...

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