exit - macOS


The exit command in macOS is used to terminate a shell session, exit from a script, or close a terminal window. It can accept an optional exit status (an integer number) that can signal the outcome of a command, script, or session, commonly used in scripting and process management.


exit [n]
  • n: An optional integer to denote the exit status of the shell. Zero (0) typically indicates success, while any non-zero value indicates an error or custom exit status according to the program’s specifics.


The exit command itself does not support any additional flags or options. Its functionality is solely dependent on the optional exit status code provided.


  1. Exiting with no specific status code:
    Simply typing exit in a terminal will close that terminal session or exit the current script, returning the status of the last command executed.

  2. Exiting with a specified status code:
    Useful in scripts to indicate an error status or successful execution.

    # Exit with a status code of 1, generally indicating an error
    exit 1
  3. Using exit status in scripts:

    # Example script to check file existence
    if [ -f "$FILE" ]; then
        echo "File exists."
        exit 0  # Success
        echo "File does not exist."
        exit 1  # Error

Common Issues

  • Unclear exit codes: Without proper documentation or comments, custom exit statuses in scripts can confuse users or maintainers regarding their meanings.
  • Misinterpretation of exit codes: Different applications can define unique meanings for the same exit codes, which might lead to incorrect assumptions in scripts or command chains.


The exit command can be integrated with other commands for more complex workflows, particularly in scripts. Here are some integration examples:

  1. Chained commands:
    Use the exit command to stop the execution chain based on a condition.

    cd /some/directory || exit 1  # Exit if change directory fails
    echo "Directory changed successfully"
  2. With trap for cleanup:

    # Script to handle cleanup
    function cleanup {
        echo "Cleaning up files..."
        # Cleanup commands here
    trap cleanup EXIT  # Ensures cleanup happens on script exit
  • logout: Specifically logs you out of the current session (often interchangeable with exit in many shells).
  • return: Exits a shell function with an optional return value, useful within scripts.

Additional resources:
For more information on scripting and command usage in macOS, consult the official Bash Reference Manual.