goto - macOS


The goto command on macOS is a scripting utility used to facilitate conditional or unconditional navigation within scripts. It is primarily utilized to alter the flow of execution by jumping to labeled sections within a script. This command is especially effective in handling complex decision structures in shell programming, allowing for clearer and more manageable code.


The basic syntax of the goto command is as follows:

goto label

Here, label represents the name of the label within the script to which the execution should jump. This label should be defined within the same script file prefixed by a colon :.


The goto command in macOS does not typically have options or flags. Its functionality is strictly to jump to a defined label within the script.


Basic Example:
A simple use of goto in a script to skip certain operations:

echo "Start of script"
goto skip
echo "This will not be printed"
echo "This will be printed"

Complex Example:
Using goto in a simple menu-driven script:

echo "1: Option One"
echo "2: Option Two"
echo "3: Exit"
read -p "Choose an option: " option

case $option in
  1) echo "You chose Option One"
     goto menu
  2) echo "You chose Option Two"
     goto menu
  3) echo "Exiting..."
     exit 0
  *) echo "Invalid option"
     goto menu

Common Issues

  • Label Not Found: If the specified label does not exist in the script, the script will terminate with an error. Ensure all labels are correctly defined.
  • Infinite Loops: Improper use of goto can lead to infinite loops. Care should be taken to ensure that the exit conditions are well-defined.


The goto command can be integrated with other shell commands to create more dynamic and navigable scripts. For example, integrating goto within a loop to exit based on user input, or to retry a command until it succeeds.

Integration Example:

echo "Trying to connect to the database..."
# Simulating a command that might fail, represented as `false`
if false; then
    echo "Connected!"
    echo "Failed to connect. Retrying in 5 seconds..."
    sleep 5
    goto retry
  • if: Used for conditional execution of commands.
  • case: Handling multiple conditions more cleanly in shell scripts.

For further reading on scripting and flow control in shells, refer to the official Bash Reference Manual.