cd - macOS


The cd (Change Directory) command in macOS is used to change the current working directory in the terminal or command line interface. It enables users to navigate the file system of Unix-like operating systems effectively. This command is fundamental for terminal usage, allowing users to access different directories to manage files or execute scripts.


The basic syntax of the cd command is:

cd [options] [directory]


  • [directory] is the path to the directory you want to switch to. If this argument is omitted, the command defaults to the user’s home directory.


The cd command primarily uses two options:

  • -L : Follow symbolic links. This is the default behavior where the cd command treats any symbolic links as the path it points to.
  • -P : Use the physical directory structure without following symbolic links.


  1. Changing to a Specific Directory:
    Navigate to a directory called Documents located in the home directory:

    cd ~/Documents
  2. Returning to the Home Directory:
    Simply use cd without arguments to return to the user’s home directory:

  3. Navigating Up One Directory Level:
    Move up one directory from the current location:

    cd ..
  4. Using Absolute Path:
    Change to a specific directory using an absolute path:

    cd /usr/local/bin
  5. Navigating through Symbolic Link:
    Change to a directory via a symbolic link:

    cd -L link_to_directory
  6. Avoid Following a Symbolic Link:
    Change to a directory and avoid following a symbolic link:

    cd -P link_to_directory

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: If a user lacks the permission to enter a directory, they can encounter a “Permission denied” error. Make sure you have the appropriate permissions, or access the directory with sudo if appropriate.
  • Directory Not Found: Users might see this if the directory they are trying to navigate to does not exist. Always check your path for typos or incomplete paths.


The cd command is often used in conjunction with other shell commands to navigate and manage the filesystem. For example, combined with ls for listing directory contents after navigation:

cd /var/log && ls -l

It is also commonly used in scripts to ensure commands are executed in the correct directory:

cd /path/to/directory
  • pwd – Print Working Directory, shows the current directory path.
  • ls – Lists directory contents, useful after changing directories.
  • mkdir – Create new directories, often navigated into with cd.

For further reading and more detailed information, consult the official macOS documentation or the man pages (accessible via man cd in the terminal).