open - macOS


The open command is a powerful tool for interacting with files, folders, and applications on macOS. It is typically used to launch applications or open files directly from the command line.


open [options] [file/url/application]


  • -a: Specify the application to use to open the file.
  • -n: Launch the application without activating it.
  • -g: Open the file using the default application for that file type.
  • -R: Open the file in read-only mode.
  • -e: Open the file using a specific editor.
  • -s: Open the file using a specific shell.
  • -t: Specify the MIME type of the file.
  • –background: Launch the application in the background.
  • –wait-apps: Wait until all launched applications have terminated.
  • –args: Pass additional arguments to the launched application.


  • Open a file with the default application:
open ~/Documents/myfile.txt
  • Open a file using a specific application:
open -a TextEdit ~/Documents/myfile.txt
  • Open a URL in the default browser:
  • Open an application without activating it:
open -n /Applications/
  • Open a file in read-only mode:
open -R ~/Documents/myfile.txt

Common Issues

  • Error: “The operation couldn’t be completed. No such file or directory exists.” – The specified file or application does not exist at the given path.
  • Error: “The file couldn’t be opened because there is not enough free memory.” – There is not enough RAM available to open the file.
  • Error: “The file couldn’t be opened because the application isn’t properly signed.” – The application used to open the file is not signed with a valid developer certificate.


The open command can be combined with other macOS commands and tools to automate various tasks. For example:

  • Open a file in a specific line:
grep "error" ~/application.log | open -f -n
  • Open a list of files in multiple applications:
ls -l ~/Documents | open -a TextEdit
  • ls: List files and directories.
  • cd: Change directory.
  • mkdir: Create a directory.
  • cp: Copy files and directories.
  • mv: Move files and directories.
  • rm: Remove files and directories.