Is there a glossary of terms around?

All your terminology needs can be found here.

How do I update my local packages?

First update the formulae and Homebrew itself:

brew update

You can now find out what is outdated with:

brew outdated

Upgrade everything with:

brew upgrade

Or upgrade a specific formula with:

brew upgrade <formula>

How do I stop certain formulae from being updated?

To stop something from being updated/upgraded:

brew pin <formula>

To allow that formulae to update again:

brew unpin <formula>

Note that pinned, outdated formulae that another formula depends on need to be upgraded when required, as we do not allow formulae to be built against outdated versions. If this is not desired, you can instead brew extract to maintain your own copy of the formula in a tap.

How do I uninstall Homebrew?

To uninstall Homebrew, run the uninstall script from the Homebrew/install repository.

How can I keep old versions of a formula when upgrading?

Homebrew automatically uninstalls old versions of a formula after that formula is upgraded with brew upgrade, and periodically performs additional cleanup every 30 days.

To disable automatic brew cleanup:


When automatic brew cleanup is disabled, if you uninstall a formula, it will only remove the latest version you have installed. It will not remove all versions of the formula that you may have installed in the past. Homebrew will continue to attempt to install the newest version it knows about when you run brew upgrade. This can be surprising.

In this case, to remove a formula entirely, you may run brew uninstall --force <formula>. Be careful as this is a destructive operation.

Where does stuff get downloaded?

brew --cache

Which is usually: ~/Library/Caches/Homebrew

My Mac .apps don’t find /usr/local/bin utilities!

GUI apps on macOS don’t have /usr/local/bin in their PATH by default. If you’re on Mountain Lion or later, you can fix this by running sudo launchctl config user path "/usr/local/bin:$PATH" and then rebooting, as documented in man launchctl. Note that this sets the launchctl PATH for all users. For earlier versions of macOS, see this page.

How do I contribute to Homebrew?

Read our contribution guidelines.

Why do you compile everything?

Homebrew provides pre-compiled versions for many formulae. These pre-compiled versions are referred to as bottles and are available at https://bintray.com/homebrew/bottles.

If available, bottled binaries will be used by default except under the following conditions:

  • Options were passed to the install command, i.e. brew install <formula> will use a bottled version of the formula, but brew install --enable-bar <formula> will trigger a source build.
  • The --build-from-source option is invoked.
  • The machine is not running a supported version of macOS as all bottled builds are generated only for supported macOS versions.
  • Homebrew is installed to a prefix other than the standard /usr/local (although some bottles support this).

We aim to bottle everything.

How do I get a formula from someone else’s branch?

brew install hub
brew update
cd $(brew --repository)
hub pull someone_else

Why does Homebrew prefer I install to /usr/local?

  1. It’s easier
    /usr/local/bin is already in your PATH.
  2. It’s easier
    Tons of build scripts break if their dependencies aren’t in either /usr or /usr/local. We fix this for Homebrew formulae (although we don’t always test for it), but you’ll find that many RubyGems and Python setup scripts break which is something outside our control.
  3. It’s safe
    Apple has assigned this directory for non-system utilities. This means there are no files in /usr/local by default, so there is no need to worry about messing up existing or system tools.

If you plan to install gems that depend on formulae then save yourself a bunch of hassle and install to /usr/local!

It is not always straightforward to tell gem to look in non-standard directories for headers and libraries. If you choose /usr/local, many things will “just work”.

Why does Homebrew say sudo is bad?

tl;dr Sudo is dangerous, and you installed TextMate.app without sudo anyway.

Homebrew refuses to work using sudo.

You should only ever sudo a tool you trust. Of course, you can trust Homebrew 😉 But do you trust the multi-megabyte Makefile that Homebrew runs? Developers often understand C++ far better than they understand make syntax. It’s too high a risk to sudo such stuff. It could modify (or upload) any files on your system. And indeed, we’ve seen some build scripts try to modify /usr even when the prefix was specified as something else entirely.

We use the macOS sandbox to stop this but this doesn’t work when run as the root user (which also has read and write access to almost everything on the system).

Did you chown root /Applications/TextMate.app? Probably not. So is it that important to chown root wget?

If you need to run Homebrew in a multi-user environment, consider creating a separate user account especially for use of Homebrew.

Why isn’t a particular command documented?

If it’s not in man brew, it’s probably an external command. These are documented here.

Why haven’t you merged my pull request?

If it’s been a while, bump it with a “bump” comment. Sometimes we miss requests and there are plenty of them. Maybe we were thinking on something. It will encourage consideration. In the meantime if you could rebase the pull request so that it can be cherry-picked more easily we will love you for a long time.

Can I edit formulae myself?

Yes! It’s easy! Just brew edit <formula>. You don’t have to submit modifications back to homebrew/core, just edit the formula as you personally need it and brew install <formula>. As a bonus brew update will merge your changes with upstream so you can still keep the formula up-to-date with your personal modifications!

Can I make new formulae?

Yes! It’s easy! Just brew create URL. Homebrew will then open the formula in EDITOR so you can edit it, but it probably already installs; try it: brew install <formula>. If you encounter any issues, run the command with the --debug switch like so: brew install --debug <formula>, which drops you into a debugging shell.

If you want your new formula to be part of homebrew/core or want to learn more about writing formulae, then please read the Formula Cookbook.

Can I install my own stuff to /usr/local?

Yes, brew is designed to not get in your way so you can use it how you like.

Install your own stuff, but be aware that if you install common libraries like libexpat yourself, it may cause trouble when trying to build certain Homebrew formula. As a result brew doctor will warn you about this.

Thus it’s probably better to install your own stuff to the Cellar and then brew link it. Like so:

$ cd foo-0.1
$ brew diy
./configure --prefix=/usr/local/Cellar/foo/0.1
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/Cellar/foo/0.1
$ make && make install
$ brew link foo
Linking /usr/local/Cellar/foo/0.1… 17 symlinks created

Why was a formula deleted or disabled?

Use brew log <formula> to find out! Likely because it had unresolved issues and/or our analytics identified it was not widely used.

For disabled and deprecated formulae, running brew info <formula> will also provide an explanation.

Homebrew is a poor name, it’s too generic, why was it chosen?

Homebrew’s creator @mxcl was too concerned with the beer theme and didn’t consider that the project may actually prove popular. By the time Max realised that it was popular, it was too late. However, today, the first Google hit for “homebrew” is not beer related 😉

What does “keg-only” mean?

It means the formula is installed only into the Cellar and is not linked into /usr/local. This means most tools will not find it. You can see why a formula was installed as keg-only, and instructions to include it in your PATH, by running brew info <formula>.

You can still link in the formula if you need to with brew link <formula>, though this can cause unexpected behaviour if you are shadowing macOS software.

How can I specify different configure arguments for a formula?

brew edit <formula> and edit the formula. Currently there is no other way to do this.

© 2009–present Homebrew contributors
Licensed under the BSD 2-Clause License.