eval - macOS


The eval command in macOS is used to execute arguments as a single command in the shell’s context. It takes a string as input and evaluates it as if it were a command line. This functionality makes eval particularly useful in scenarios where you need to construct commands dynamically, or when working with variable command strings in shell scripts.


The basic syntax of the eval command is as follows:

eval [arguments]
  • arguments: A string of commands that you want eval to execute.

Each argument is concatenated together, separated by a space, and the resulting string is then executed as a shell command.


eval does not have specific options or flags. Its behavior is entirely dependent on the input provided as arguments.


  1. Basic Example:
    Combine variables into a command:

    eval "$command $options $folder"
  2. Complex Command Construction:
    Reading command from user input:

    read -p "Enter command: " user_command
    eval $user_command
  3. Using eval to Export Variables Dynamically:

    eval "export $variable_name=$new_path"

Common Issues

  1. Security Risks: When using eval with untrusted input, it can lead to security vulnerabilities, such as arbitrary code execution. Always sanitize inputs when they come from untrusted sources.

  2. Syntax Errors in Commands: Since eval executes the string as a command, any syntax errors in the command will cause it to fail. Ensure the command string is valid before using eval.

  3. Unexpected Behavior: Due to variable expansion, eval can sometimes behave unexpectedly. Double-check commands for issues related to quotes and spaces.


eval can be integrated with other shell commands or scripts to perform more complex tasks. Here’s an example of using eval with a loop to dynamically create and assign variables:

for i in {1..5}; do
    eval "var$i=$i"

This script creates five variables (var1 to var5) and assigns them values from 1 to 5 respectively.

  • bash: The shell where eval is often used.
  • sh: Another common shell used on Unix-like systems.

For further reading and more in-depth information, refer to the bash manual or other shell documentation available online or through the man bash command on your system.