I stuffed up (basically wiped) my PATH variable.

Is there any way to reset it to the default?

I look at How do I reset the $PATH variable on Mac OS X?, but I find it very confusing. As far as I know I stuffed up my ~/.profile file.


I have the following in my ~/.profile:


The first PATH declaration overrides any existing PATH setting (it doesn't include $PATH). The path used is the OS X default.

The second line appends ~/bin to the PATH and it is a personal preference, not a default.

After edit, restart your session — or use command source ~/.profile to activate the changes immediately.

  • Thanks a million man - everything so far has been insanely confusing - your advice is incredibly straightforward and easy to follow Apr 11 '11 at 17:09
  • Better to use ~/.bash_profile for this simple case and in more general ~/.bashrc and source that in your ~/.bash_profile
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 29 '16 at 16:07

The file can have the name .bash_profile or .profile - one solution could be to rename the file e.g. mv ~/.bash_profile ~/.bash_prolile.old and then restart your machine and see if it helped.

You can also try to edit the file, and then maybe you'll see the wrong PATH, which you then can edit.


In the case of logging in as a normal user and invoking su - root, I found that Mac OS X 10.8.5's bash was ignoring .profile and .bash_profile; I was unable to change root's $PATH by editing those files. What did work was editing /etc/paths. After exiting the root shell and entering again with su - root, the new path was present.

  • Messing with system paths could generate instability.
    – sas08
    Nov 8 '15 at 9:54

Resetting your terminal will work. It will reset your basic configurations.

Reset your terminal. From top navigation go to Shell >> Reset.

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