These notes are for my personal use and since I don’t own or really use a Mac, they may not be too useful for anyone else. One important methodology is logging in remotely and troubleshooting the misbehaving Macs of users.

What Version Of OSX Is This Running

This is very handy for many reasons:

someguysmac:~ xed$ system_profiler SPSoftwareDataType

    System Software Overview:

      System Version: Mac OS X 10.6.8 (10K549)
      Kernel Version: Darwin 10.8.0
      Boot Volume: Macintosh HD
      Boot Mode: Normal
      Computer Name: mablab
      User Name: Chris X Edwards (xed)
      Secure Virtual Memory: Not Enabled
      64-bit Kernel and Extensions: No
      Time since boot: 4 days 21:55

What terrifying animal does something like "10.6.8" refer to? Look at the OS_X Wikipedia article to find out. 10.6 is Snow Leopard for example.

Updating From Command Line

I sometimes have to log in to a Mac over SSH and update it. Here’s how to check the status of things.

softwareupdate -l

And then to actually install all updates.

sudo softwareupdate -iva

Or -ivr for just the recommended ones. (Why would some not be recommended?!)


The say command looks fun.

The screencapture reminds me of import.

For opening Word files and so on, use open <filename>. Which version of Word if you have two? I don’t know how it knows but it seems to go for the latest.

Here’s a collection of similar tips for using the Mac OS X command line to best effect.


It is not strictly necessary, but when exploring Unix on a Mac, the experience is enhanced by having all resources available installed. To start with it is good to install Apple’s developer tools known as Xcode. I found on a Mavericks OS X (10.9, I think) in 2014 when it was the latest and greatest that I was able to install Xcode by simply opening a terminal and typing gcc. Since the Gnu Comipler Collection was missing, a fancy GUI box opened and asked if I wanted Xcode to automagically be installed. After Xcode is successfully installed, the next thing to have to make your Apple system really useful is Homebrew which is a package manager for Macs that make installing the things Apple neglected to quite easy. Just go to the Homebrew page and cut and paste the line they show for "Install Homebrew". After providing your system password one or many times, it’s ready to go. Then you can do things like brew install wget to install the very useful program wget. Here are a few of my favorite free software packages that Apple should have included, but didn’t, which you can get with brew: mercurial, cvs, source-highlight, imagemagick, asciidoc.

Display Ports

I just noticed that some new (2014) Apples have an HDMI port. A normal regular HDMI port. Just to keep things interesting, there’s of course the Apple magical display port also. So much for space saving.

Possible display options for Intel-based Mac laptops to VGA:

micro-DVI to VGA

MacBook Air (Early 2008)

mini-DVI to VGA

MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2009)

MacBook (13-inch, Early 2009)

MacBook (13-inch, Late 2008)

MacBook (13-inch, Early 2008)

MacBook (13-inch, Late 2007)

MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2007),

MacBook (13-inch, Late 2006)

MacBook (13-inch)


MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)

MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2008)

MacBook Pro (17-inch, 2.4 GHz, Late 2007)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.4/2.2 GHz)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Core 2 Duo)

MacBook Pro (17-inch, Core 2 Duo)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Glossy)

MacBook Pro (15-inch)

MacBook Pro (17-inch)

mini-DisplayPort to VGA

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012 and later)

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013 and later)

MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012)

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009 and later)

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008 and later)

MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009 and later)

MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009 and later)

MacBook (13-inch, Aluminum, Late 2008)

MacBook Air (Late 2008 and later)