Homebrew is a package manager for MacOS (and Linux). This way, with a single line of code, users can install, update, and manage various applications and tools on their Macs. It’s the go-to tool for developers and tech enthusiasts, ensuring a streamlined and efficient process for software deployment.
What Is Homebrew Used For?
Homebrew provides access to thousands of open-source software packages, including development tools, utilities, productivity apps and games. This opens up a whole world of possibilities for Mac users beyond the limited selection available in the App Store. Homebrew allows users to perform all those operations from the command line interface, making setting up and maintaining a development environment easier.
This package manager is a fantastic tool for both software developers and casual users alike. Its consumers can install tools for video editing, music production and graphic design to automate tasks like file manipulation, network management, and system configuration through Homebrew scripts. With the colossal number of packages available, the sky is the limit.
One thing to note when installing Homebrew is that it’s a text-based terminal application, so for optimal use, those looking to download the package manager must have a reasonable understanding of running commands on a terminal.
This article will explain exactly how to download Homebrew, including some useful common commands, as well as how to uninstall. Let’s get started.
Prerequisites for Homebrew Installation
Before getting into the Homebrew installation process, users need to take care of a bit of housekeeping. Your MacOS needs to match the following technical criteria:
Steps for Installing Homebrew
To install Homebrew, take the following steps.
7 Steps to Install Homebrew
- Open the terminal.
- Install Homebrew.
- Enter your password.
- Follow the instructions.
- Wait for installation.
- Verify installation.
- Turn off analytics (optional).
1. Open the Terminal
Open the application terminal on your MacOS. You can find it using spotlight search (Cmd + Space, then type “Terminal”).
2. Install Homebrew
Copy and paste the following command into the terminal and then press Enter →
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"
3. Enter Your Password
Type in your user password. This is the same password you use to log in to your MacOS account. For a security measure, you won’t be able to see the characters as you type them.
4. Follow the Instructions
The installation script will prompt you to press Enter to continue. This is your opportunity to review the script to ensure it looks as you expected.
5. Wait for Installation
The installation process can take some time as it downloads and installs all the necessary files to set up the Homebrew directories. You will see various messages printed in the terminal window as Homebrew is downloaded and configured.
Once complete, you should see a successful installation message appear.
6. Verify Installation
You should see a message once the installation is complete; however, to verify the installation, type the command →
# brew doctor
If your Homebrew installation has been successful, you will see this text: “Your system is ready to brew.”
7. Turn Off Analytics (Optional)
Users should know that Homebrew gathers anonymous usage data about how its consumers interact with the package manager. You can turn this feature off, however.
Homebrew explains this decision on its website:
“Homebrew is provided free of charge and run entirely by volunteers in their spare time. As a result, we do not have the resources to do detailed user studies of Homebrew users to decide on how best to design future features and prioritize current work. Anonymous analytics allow us to prioritize fixes and features based on how, where and when people use Homebrew.”
If you would like to turn off analytics tracking, run the following command within the terminal →
# brew analytics off
You can also check the status of the analytic data collection after turning off analytics by running the following command →
# brew analytics
Common Homebrew Commands
After installing Homebrew, you can get acquainted with the software. Here are some of the most common commands you will use.
Install a package
# brew install <package>
Replace <package> with the name of the software or tool you want to install.
# brew update
This command updates Homebrew and its package database.
Upgrade installed packages
# brew upgrade
As the command implies, this upgrades all installed packages to their latest versions.
Search for a package
# brew search <keyword>
Searches for packages related to the specified <keyword>.
Show information about a package
# brew info <package>
Displays information about the specified package, including dependencies and versions.
Uninstall a package
# brew uninstall <package>
Uninstalls the specified package.
Check for issues
# brew doctor
Diagnoses any potential issues with the Homebrew setup.
How to Uninstall Homebrew
Homebrew isn’t for everyone, and there’s a range of reasons for wanting to uninstall the software. These range from having glitches with the program to wanting to free up your storage to trying out a different package manager. More on that later.
So, if you’ve decided that Homebrew isn’t for you, then follow these simple steps to uninstall it.
5 Steps to Uninstall Homebrew
- Open the terminal.
- Uninstall Homebrew.
- Confirm uninstallation.
- Wait for uninstallation.
- Verify uninstallation.
Open the Terminal
Open the Terminal application of your MacOS. You can find it using spotlight search (Cmd + Space, then type “Terminal”).
Run the following command in the terminal and then press Enter →
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/uninstall.sh)"
The script will prompt you with on-screen instructions and ask for confirmation that you wish to uninstall Homebrew.
Press “Y” on your keyboard if you wish to continue with the uninstall. Then, enter your user password. This is the password that you use to log in to your MacOS account.
Wait for Uninstallation
The script will proceed with the uninstallation process of Homebrew and its associated files. This step may take a few minutes.
Once the script finishes, you can verify the uninstallation by typing the following command and pressing enter →
# brew doctor
If you have successfully uninstalled Homebrew, you should see a message indicating that Homebrew is no longer installed on your system.
Alternatives to Homebrew
There are a variety of reasons why Homebrew won’t be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to package managers. So here is a list of alternative programs on the market.
MacPorts simplifies the installation of various open-source software on MacOS. It uses its own infrastructure and port system and tends to be more source-based than Homebrew.
Fink is another package manager for MacOS that provides access to a wide range of Unix tools and software. It’s similar to MacPorts and offers both source-based and binary-based package installations.
Anaconda is a distribution of Python and R programming languages that includes a package manager. This is the trendy option in the data science and scientific computing communities. Although it’s not a general package manager like Homebrew, it is worth mentioning for Python users.
Nix is a powerful package manager that works across different Unix-like systems, including MacOS. It uses a functional and declarative approach to package management, allowing for reproducible environments.
Homebrew can transform your Mac into a development powerhouse. You can access a plethora of tools and libraries to code, build, and deploy your wildest creations. Good luck!