Sudo and OS X Aliases

Danny Wahl's picture Danny Wahl  •   •  DevOps

I spend a lot of time in the shell on Ubuntu – and in Gnome one of the basic features that I rely on is the right click “Open as Administrator” which will prompt for administrator privileges and then open the file with the default application. Unfortunately, this feature is missing from OS X is a severe way.

There’s not much you can do about this from the GUI – but on Ubuntu standard editors are integrated into terminal with a simple syntax.

sudo gedit /etc/someprogram/conf.conf  

This will prompt for sudo authentication and then initiate a new instance of gEdit and the terminal thread will wait until the file is saved before exiting. This is extremely useful, but try it on a Mac and you’ll see this:

-bash: gedit: command not found

Less useful. Well here’s how to integrate gedit (or any other program really) into your shell on OS X. The magic is all in terminal aliases.

vi ~/.profile  

The first thing you’ll see is your $PATH variable defined, and possibly some aliases. We’re going to be adding some more aliases. Here’s a few text editors (Fraise, gEdit, and Kod):

# aliases
alias fraise="/Applications/"  
alias gedit="/Applications/"  
alias kod="/Applications/"  

ta-da you can now launch programs from terminal. But! try adding sudo and we’re right back to the “command not found”. The reason for that is that the first thing that happens after you type sudo is your command is actually passed to the super user shell – which doesn’t have your aliases in it. So you need to add one more line alias at the end:

alias sudo='sudo '  

And we’re done, you can now sudo and edit files through terminal on OS X just like basically every other operating system that’s been available in this century. Seriously Apple, when is Finder going to get some usability improvements?