Tips and Tricks

Install previous versions of formulae

Some formulae in homebrew/core are made available as versioned formulae using a special naming format, e.g. gcc@7. If the version you’re looking for isn’t available, consider using brew extract.

Quickly remove something from Homebrew’s prefix

brew unlink <formula>

This can be useful if a package can’t build against the version of something you have linked into Homebrew’s prefix.

And of course, you can simply brew link <formula> again afterwards!

Pre-download a file for a formula

Sometimes it’s faster to download a file via means other than the strategies that are available as part of Homebrew. For example, Erlang provides a torrent that’ll let you download at 4–5× compared to the normal HTTP method.

Downloads are saved in the downloads subdirectory of Homebrew’s cache directory (as specified by brew --cache, e.g. ~/Library/Caches/Homebrew) and renamed as <url-hash>--<formula>-<version>. The command brew --cache --build-from-source <formula> will print the expected path of the cached download, so after downloading the file, you can run mv the_tarball "$(brew --cache --build-from-source <formula>)" to relocate it to the cache.

You can also pre-cache the download by using the command brew fetch <formula> which also displays the SHA-256 hash. This can be useful for updating formulae to new versions.

Install stuff without the Xcode CLT

brew sh          # or: eval "$(brew --env)"
gem install ronn # or c-programs

This imports the brew environment into your existing shell; gem will pick up the environment variables and be able to build. As a bonus, brew’s automatically determined optimization flags are set.

Install only a formula’s dependencies (not the formula)

brew install --only-dependencies <formula>

Use the interactive Homebrew shell

$ brew irb
==> Interactive Homebrew Shell
Example commands available with: `brew irb --examples`
irb(main):001:0> Formulary.factory("ace").methods - Object.methods
=> [:install, :test, :test_defined?, :sbin, :pkgshare, :elisp,
:frameworks, :kext_prefix, :any_version_installed?, :etc, :pkgetc,
:on_macos, :on_linux, :debug?, :quiet?, :verbose?, :with_context]

Hide the beer mug emoji when finishing a build


This sets the HOMEBREW_NO_EMOJI environment variable, causing Homebrew to hide all emoji.

The beer emoji can also be replaced with other character(s):


Migrate a Homebrew installation to a new location

Running brew bundle dump will record an installation to a Brewfile and brew bundle install will install from a Brewfile. See brew bundle --help for more details.

Appoint Homebrew Cask to manage a manually-installed app

Run brew install --cask with the --adopt switch:

$ brew install --cask --adopt textmate
==> Downloading
==> Installing Cask textmate
==> Adopting existing App at '/Applications/'
==> Linking Binary 'mate' to '/opt/homebrew/bin/mate'
🍺  textmate was successfully installed!

Editor plugins

Visual Studio Code

Sublime Text



macOS Enable the “Open man Page” contextual menu item

In the macOS Terminal, you can right-click on a command name (like ls or tar) and pop open its manpage in a new window by selecting “Open man Page”.

Terminal needs an extra hint on where to find manpages installed by Homebrew because it doesn’t load normal dotfiles like ~/.bash_profile or ~/.zshrc.

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/man.d
echo "MANPATH /opt/homebrew/share/man" | sudo tee -a /usr/local/etc/man.d/

If you’re using Homebrew on macOS Intel, you should also fix permissions afterwards with:

sudo chown -R "${USER}" /usr/local/etc
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