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Launch Sublime Text 2 from the Mac OS X Terminal

Launch Sublime Text 2 from the Mac OS X Terminal

Sublime Text 2 ships with a CLI called subl (why not "sublime", go figure). This utility is hidden in the following folder (assuming you installed Sublime in /Applications like normal folk. If this following line opens Sublime Text for you, then bingo, you're ready.

open /Applications/Sublime\ Text\

You can find more (official) details about subl here:


The official documentation I linked to above recommends creating a ~/bin folder (in your home directory). That's weird, I don't recall ever being asked to do that on OS X since most people install binaries within /usr/local/bin which – if you're a developer – is likely to already have tons of other binaries.

So contrary to the Sublime team recommendation, we're not going to create a bin folder in your home directory:

ln -s /Applications/Sublime\ Text\ /usr/local/bin/sublime

This will simply create a symlink called sublime (remember, we like names that don't suck to type 500 times a day) between the subl binary stashed in the Sublime application package, and a folder where your system usually looks for binaries to execute (launch). Think of it as a wormhole of awesome.

Now let's do a check to see if everything will run smoothly. Enter this:

open ~/.bash_profile

(In some cases the profile file is named ~/.profile)

You should see at the top of the file a line that starts with: export PATH=

This contains all the directories that will be looked into for executable binaries when you type a command in Terminal. Since we create a symlink to subl called sublime in the /usr/local/bin directory let's check if this directory is listed on that same line.

If it is, perfect. Let's keep going. If not, simply add it like this and save the file:

export PATH=/usr/local/bin:(...)

Note: The '(...)' in this example represents other folders that would be listed on the same line and separated by a colon.

If you don't already have a PATH set in your bash_profile you can type:

export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

If you had to add /usr/local/bin to your PATH, run the following command before continuing:

source ~/.bash_profile

This will reload your .bash_profile with the newly added directory.


Open a Terminal window and run:

sublime filename (replace "filename" by an actual file name)


sublime foldername (replace "foldername" by an actual folder name)

or even

sublime . (to open the entire current directory)


Now you don't need to get out of Terminal to simply open a file or a folder, you didn't have to add an "alias" or yet another bin directory to your .bash_profile which you would have needed with the official instructions given by the Sublime team.

Have fun, Sublime is a great editor showing a lot of promise.

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Worked like a charm ... thanks

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danyim commented Jul 17, 2016

For Sublime Text 3 users, this worked for me
ln -s /Applications/Sublime\ /usr/local/bin/sublime

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GNJM commented Jul 24, 2016


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ccostel commented Aug 17, 2016

Thanks! Really awesome stuff.

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Thanks for sharing this. However, I like to play with aliases

~$ grep -i sublime ~/.bash_profile
alias sl='/Applications/Sublime\ Text\'

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3pns commented Sep 4, 2016

Awesome ! Thank you

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Hi ! I'm getting "permission denied" from the first step. How can I get rid of this ? Thanks a lot :)

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@NathaLalou simply enter "sudo !!" after you get "permission denied"

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ghost commented Sep 30, 2016

sudo !! is not a fix for the permission denied problem. does anyone have a legitimate solution for getting a permission denied message? i am an admin user.

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Woot! thanks for this

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buluxan commented Oct 6, 2016

working for me thx @vikas027

~$ grep -i sublime ~/.bash_profile
alias sl='/Applications/Sublime\ Text\'

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ghost commented Oct 11, 2016

Getting the permission denied after the first step! Please help!

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mladenp commented Nov 1, 2016

This is crazy complex and not working.
So i just added alias in .bash_profile like so:
alias = "open -a 'sublime text' "

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In case anyone is having trouble this instruction is for Sublime Text 2. If your app doesnt have a number at the end of the file name change the following:

ln -s /Applications/Sublime\ Text\ /usr/local/bin/sublime


ln -s /Applications/Sublime\ /usr/local/bin/sublime

in hindsight it seems obvious but caught me up for a bit!

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ghost commented Jan 4, 2017

MacOS sierra Method:

open /Applications/Sublime\ 

ln -s /Applications/Sublime\ /usr/local/bin/subl

echo "export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.bash_profile

source ~/.bash_profile


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tokra commented Jan 12, 2017

On macOs you can simply define alias in .bash_profile e.g.: alias sublime='open -a "Sublime Text"'
everytime you open terminal, .bash_profile is sourced, and you simply can use sublime command. No need to make symlinks or export it to path. This solution is simples I ever saw. Thx

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trnt2110 commented Feb 2, 2017

Works for me, thanks!

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@krv Exactly what I needed, 5 years later. Thanks!

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aminqp commented Feb 12, 2017

Awesome ! Thank you

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Russian translate below
Перевод на русский, кому надо, быстрее и проще

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Thanks tomaspen!

Steps I took to get it to work for Sierra 10.12.5

$open ~/.bash
add to top of bash profile: alias subl='open -a "Sublime Text"'
save bash_profile
$source ~/.bash_profile
$subl .

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tonhwk commented Jul 30, 2017

I dont know how but it works! thank you!

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fr6nco commented Sep 28, 2017

Verrrry fucking useful!! thank you very much

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@tomespen that won't work with doing subl ~/folder.

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lnshi commented Dec 31, 2017

Really no need to be this complex, just add one line alias into your .bash_profile, then you are done:

alias subl='/Applications/Sublime\'


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Thank you!~

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life saver!!!

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.bash_profile alternate changes

#Custom Path

#Append to Path

#Custom Alias
alias sublime='subl'

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beepony commented Feb 26, 2019

Really no need to be this complex, just add one line alias into your .bash_profile, then you are done:

alias subl='/Applications/Sublime\'


thank you, it works

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eguyot commented Aug 19, 2021

Hello. Thank you for this tutorial. Could someone consider updating it please ?
Since Sublime Text 2 is now named only Sublime Text.

Also, could you add the procedure for zsh ? I can't find something that work properly online.

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