To get down into the nuts and bolts of the computer, we need to use something called the command line. It’s also called the terminal, bash prompt, shell, or a hundred other weird names. Whenever you’re using it people who walk by notice will be amazed! …and ask if you can change their grades or fix their printer.

Getting to the command line is a little different depending on what operating system you use, though, so let’s figure out how to do that now.

Mac OS X, all versions (Terminal)

OS X is built on top of something called Darwin, which is built on something else called BSD, which is flavor of something you may have heard of called Linux. All of that is really just a boring way of saying “the command line is easy to use and works great in OS X.” Lucky you!

To use the command line (a.k.a. Terminal) in OS X, click the little magnifying glass in the top right-hand corner and type “Terminal.” It should show up, you can click it, and tada! It works.

If it doesn’t show up, you’ll need to open up your Applications folder, then go into Utilities, and finally track down Terminal.

To open the command line on OS X, run the Terminal application.

To test that you’re on the command line, type ls (that’s a little L, not a big i) and hit enter. Does it look like some stuff? Great, it worked!

Windows, all versions

There are two major ways to use the command line on Windows, the Command Prompt or PowerShell.

PowerShell is more powerful (hehe), but we’re going to stick with Command Prompt. To run Command Prompt, click the Start menu, then type cmd or Command Prompt and run it.

To open the command line on Windows, run the Command Prompt.

The OS X command line is based on Linux, which is the same breed of software that most servers in the world run. Our classes are focused on these popular Linux-compatible commands, which are unfortunately a bit different than the Command Prompt commands. It’s generally the same idea, though!

A few important ones are different, but you’ll just figure it out as we go along.

When using Command Prompt, cutting and pasting might not work for you if you’re used to using ctrl+c and ctrl+v. Instead you’ll need to click the box in the upper left-hand corner and pick Cut and Paste out of the Edit menu.

To test that you’re on the command line, type dir and hit enter. Does it look like some stuff? Great, it worked!