What is Homebrew and what does it do?

Learn about what Homebrew is and why it’s a massive timesaver for macOS and Linux users.

What is Homebrew?

Homebrew is an open-source software package manager that makes it easier to install software on macOS (Apple’s operating system) and Linux.

Basically, a package manager’s job is to find and install the right software packages that will allow you to compile and run various apps/software on your specific operating system. A package manager, like Homebrew, does a lot of tedious time-consuming work that you would otherwise have to do manually.

Install Homebrew on Mac

To install Homebrew, run this command in your macOS terminal:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

As soon as it’s done, run this command to make sure it’s up to date:

brew update

The entire installation and updating process can take a while, depending on your hardware power, and internet speed.

Install apps with Homebrew

Let’s say you decide to install a browser on your new computer, e.g. Google Chrome. You do that by running this command in your terminal:

brew cask install google-chrome

Now, Homebrew will quickly find out what software is already installed on your machine, and what is missing, or if anything needs to be updated to make the Chrome browser work optimally on your particular system. It will then go out and install all the required software dependencies for you.

Again, depending on your specific setup, and which app you’re installing, this can take anything from a few seconds to several minutes for Homebrew to complete.

Tip:

Don't use Homebrew to install Node.js. I suggest that you use NVM to install Node because it gives you more freedom to version control Node than Homebrew does.

Resources

Check out the docs on Homebrew’s official website