command - macOS


The command utility in macOS is used to run a specified command while ignoring shell functions or aliases that might override it. This is especially useful in scripting scenarios where predictable command behavior is necessary regardless of the user’s shell configuration. The command provides a reliable way of executing system commands without interference from user-defined functions or aliases.


command [-pVv] command_name [arguments]
  • command_name is the name of the command you want to execute.
  • arguments are the arguments passed to the command.


  • -p: Uses a default value for PATH that is guaranteed to find all the standard utilities.
  • -V: Displays a description of command_name. This is useful for finding out whether the command is interpreted as a built-in, function, etc.
  • -v: Similar to -V, but only shows the command path.


  • -p: Use a default value of PATH that includes all standard directories, ensuring that system commands are found first, bypassing any custom paths that might shadow system utilities.
  • -V: Outputs a detailed description of the command, helpful for debugging or understanding command resolution in complex environments.
  • -v: Provides the path of the executable that would be run when command_name is invoked, useful for verifying which binary will be executed in scripts.


  • Basic Usage:

    command ls

    This would run the ls utility, bypassing any aliases or functions named ls.

  • Using with options:

    command -v ls

    Outputs the path to the ls binary.

  • Combining flags:

    command -pV bash

    This command displays detailed information about the bash command, ensuring that the standard path is used.

Common Issues

  • Aliases or Functions Not Being Bypassed: This typically happens when users forget to use the command utility and directly invoke commands that might be overridden in their shell environment.
    Solution: Always prepend command to your command invocation when you want to ensure standard behavior.

  • Command Not Found: If the -p option doesn’t resolve the issue, it might be due to the command not being installed on your system.
    Solution: Verify the installation of the command or use -V or -v to debug further.


The command utility can be integrated with shell scripts to ensure that the expected command versions are used. For example:

# Update system packages securely
command -p sudo command apt-get update

This script ensures that the standard sudo and apt-get commands are executed, avoiding any locally modified behaviors.

  • type: Displays information about command type.
  • which: Shows the executable file associated with the given command.

For additional details, the macOS man pages (man command) provide more in-depth information on the usage of the command utility and its various nuances.