false - macOS


The false command in macOS is a simple utility used in shell scripting and programming to return an exit status of 1. This command is primarily used to deliberately ensure a non-successful exit status for testing error handling, conditional statements, and the behavior of scripts when encountering failure. It is an essential tool in scenarios where failure simulation is necessary.


The false command syntax is straightforward as it does not take any options or arguments:


Running the command false always exits with a status of 1.


There are no options or flags available for the false command. Its sole purpose is to exit with a status code of 1.


  1. Basic Usage:
    Simply typing false will execute the command:


    This can be checked by echoing the exit status $?:

    echo $?  # Output will be 1
  2. Use in Conditional Scripts:
    Use false to test the behavior of an if-else statement:

    if false; then
      echo "This will not print."
      echo "This will print."

Common Issues

  • Misunderstanding Exit Codes: New users might expect false to behave like a typical command and mistakenly interpret its exit code 1 as an error, rather than correct behavior. It is important to understand that false is designed to return 1 as a normal operation.
  • Incorrect Usage in Conditionals: Some users implement false expecting it to evaluate to truthy, similar to how non-zero values work in some programming languages. Always remember, in shell scripting, zero (0) is truthy (success), and non-zero is falsy (failure).


false can be useful in scripts or as part of larger command pipelines:

  • Combining with Logical Operators:

    false || echo "Failed, as expected"

    This will print “Failed, as expected” because the first command false “fails”, so the second command runs.

  • Looping Until a Command Succeeds:
    You can use false in a loop that breaks when a command succeeds:

    until false; do
      echo "Trying again"
  • true: Returns a success exit status (0). Opposite in behavior to false.
  • exit: Command to terminate a script or a shell with a given exit status.

For additional resources and documentation, referring to the GNU coreutils website might provide more insights into similar commands and detailed usage in various scripting scenarios.