until - macOS


The until command is a powerful tool that repeatedly executes a command or set of commands until a specified condition is met or a specified number of iterations has been reached. It is a versatile command that can be used for various tasks, such as automation, scripting, and system administration.


until [command] [;] do [command]... [;] done
  • [command] specifies the command or set of commands to be executed repeatedly.
  • ; is a command separator. It can be used to separate multiple commands within the do block.


| Option | Description | Default |
| -c | Exit after the specified number of iterations, even if the condition is not met. | N/A |
| -m | Display a message after each iteration. | False |
| -v | Display verbose output. | False |


Simple Example:

until touch ~/file.txt
  sleep 1

This command will repeatedly check if the file ~/file.txt exists. If the file does not exist, it will wait for 1 second and check again. It will continue this process until the file exists.

Complex Example:

until curl -s https://example.com | grep 'success'
  sleep 1
  echo "Waiting for server to respond"

This command will repeatedly send a GET request to the specified URL and check if the response contains the string “success”. If the string is not found, it will wait for 1 second and try again. It will continue this process until the string is found.

Common Issues

Infinite Loop: If the condition specified in the until statement is never met, the command will run indefinitely, resulting in an infinite loop. To avoid this, use the -c option to specify the maximum number of iterations.

Syntax Errors: Ensure that the syntax of the command is correct. Missing semicolons or incorrect command structure can lead to errors.


The until command can be integrated with other macOS commands to create powerful scripts and automation tasks. For example, it can be used to:

  • Monitor system logs or processes.
  • Check for new emails or updates.
  • Automate repetitive tasks.