9 of Best Homebrew Packages for Mac

9 of  Best Homebrew Packages for Mac

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So after a lot of requests from our users here is a guide about 9 of the Best Homebrew Packages for Mac.

If you’re an advanced Mac user who spends a significant amount of time at the command line, Homebrew is probably already installed. So, how about sharing a list of some of the best Homebrew packages available to Mac users?

We’ve discussed Homebrew many times, but essentially it makes installing additional command line tools easier than ever, as it doesn’t require compiling and it handles the dependencies for you. Even if you don’t have Homebrew installed, this list of some of the more helpful Homebrew packages and tools can inspire you to get Homebrew on your Mac.

To get some use out of this list, you’ll want to be a fairly advanced command line user, and of course you’ll need to install Homebrew on the Mac if you haven’t already. Then you are ready to enjoy the collection. And don’t forget to share your own favorite Homebrew packages in the comments too.

In no particular order, here are some of the best Homebrew packages for Mac:


Cask makes it easy to install Mac OS GUI apps and binaries directly from the command line with Homebrew. First you install cask, then you can install normal Mac apps directly from the command line.

brew install barrel

For example, once you have cask and you want to install Chrome from the command line, Cask can do that with a command like the following:

brew cask install google-chrome

Or maybe you want to install iterm2 so you have that cool drop-down list available everywhere:

brew cask install iterm2

Cask can install numerous applications in Mac OS without having to download them separately from different websites and then go through the typical drag-and-drop installation routine.

Note that Cask has some limitations, for example it cannot install anything from the Mac App Store, and Cask cannot install software updates on the Mac like the ‘software update’ command can, but that doesn’t make it a less useful tool for advanced users. Mac users.


htop is a command line system resource monitor. htop is basically a superior version of ‘top’, with a nice visual indicator of process activity, CPU activity, memory usage, average load and process management. You can think of it a bit like Activity Monitor for the command line, although many command line users claim it is even more useful than Activity Monitor.

brew install htop

We’ve talked about installing htop on the Mac before, it’s a really fantastic tool that deserves to be a part of every command line toolbox.


wget can download data from the web and ftp, making it one of the best tools for downloading everything from the command line. Whether you just want to download a single file from somewhere, or you want to download an entire directory or even mirror an entire website, wget can do it for you.

brew install wget

You can also install wget without Homebrew, but if you’re reading this article, you probably already have Homebrew.


nmap is a premium network security scanner. It can find network assets, discover services and hosts on local networks, perform port scans, map a network (hence the name), detect operating systems and software versions on clients and servers, and much more. It is an excellent tool for system administrators, network administrators, security researchers and anyone who needs to deal with network scanning activities.

brew install nmap

You can also get nmap for Mac as a disk image in a standalone binary file if you’d rather not deal with it home-brew, but again, we’re talking homebrew here.

Oh and if the concept of nmap appeals to you but the command line is way above your head or too cumbersome then you can use Network Utility on Mac OS to run port scans, finger, whois, route tracing, ping and a lot more, all from a friendlier GUI app.


links and lynx are command line web browsers, which give you full web access (well, as long as there’s text to navigate) from the command line. This is useful for many reasons, be it for research and web browsing from a terminal window, or even for testing the functionality of websites and compatibility with alternative browsers and for alternative use cases. I like ‘links’ but ‘lynx’ is fine too, or you can install both.

brew install links

We’ve covered lynx for macports, and you can also get lynx with image support if you’re interested, but then again, if you have Homebrew installed, it’s a breeze to install from the command line.


geoip gives you geolocation data for an entered IP address. This is useful for network and system administrators, web workers, security researchers and much more.

brew install geoip

If you’ve ever wondered where a particular IP address is located in the world and which ISP it belongs to, then GeoIP is for you.


Do you like to chat on IRC? Would you like to be told that ‘rtfm’ you should know when asking a question in #linux? Then irssi is for you as it might be the best irc client for the command line (or maybe sorry ircii, mirc and ircle in general).

brew install irssi

/ join!

bash completion

If you’re using the bash shell, bash completion is likely something that you are either familiar with or will be soon as it improves command completion significantly and is programmable. Personally, I’m a supporter of zsh, which also has great completion options, but bash completion makes bash much more useful, so if you’re a bash fan, check out if it appeals to you.

brew install bash completion

Oh and this probably goes without saying, but if you’ve changed your shell in the Terminal app at some point, you’ll want to use bash to use the bash completion.


The wait command is super useful for continuously monitoring another process. For example, you can use watch to track disk usage or IO, or virtual memory usage or something else, by updating the output of the command every few seconds. This is one of those great tools for administrators, but it’s useful for a lot of other purposes too.

brew install watch

Home-brew isn’t the only approach to watch, you can also install watch on Mac OS with MacPorts, either from source or as a pre-compiled binary file.

What do you think? Do you have a particularly favorite Homebrew package? Share Your Own Best Homebrew Packages, tricks, installations and add-ons in the comments below!

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