Command Line Basics

Please familiarize yourself with the following CLI commands. They all work on a Mac and most should work on Windows.

The pwd command

Displays the current working directory

The ls command

List all the non-hidden files in the current directory to the console. Hidden files begin with a ”.“. If you’d like to display all files (hidden and non-hidden) in the current directory, run ls -a.

The cd command

Change directory from the current directory to (file path)

Example: cd ~/Downloads

The mkdir command

Create a subdirectory named (file path) in the current directory

Example: mkdir assignment1

The touch command

Create a new, empty file.

Example: touch index.html

The open command

Open a folder or file with a specific application from the CLI. This command isn’t necessary to learn but can be helpful. I often find myself wanting to open a specific folder or file (like ~/.bash_profile) with VS Code from the CLI. I am not certain if this command works on Windows. If anyone is using Windows, please give this a try and let me know. 🙏


  • open -a 'Visual Studio Code' . (the ”.” means the current working directory)
  • open -a 'Visual Studio Code' ~/.bash_profile (This can be very helpful if you need to edit a hidden file and you aren’t familiar with a CLI text editor like Vim.)