I had recently messed up my $PATH variable so I thought if fixing it by removing the /etc/paths but I found out online solutions to fix the $PATH variable by just editing the ~/.bash_profile so I moved the /etc/paths to the trash but then I accidentally emptied the trash so now its gone so now should I worry about some critical system apps to stop working if yes how should I fix this?

  • Restore from backup
    – mmmmmm
    Nov 16, 2017 at 2:17
  • I have backup of my home directory only.
    – user244378
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:32
  • Then reinstall the OS and set up a proper backup
    – mmmmmm
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:56
  • But I don't think it's neceesary
    – user244378
    Nov 16, 2017 at 13:00
  • True but it is the easiest and probably quickest way nowadays. It used to be reinstalling or restores took hours from tape. Now from time machine etc only a few minutes. Probably less time than you have spent on asking the question
    – mmmmmm
    Nov 16, 2017 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


The /etc/paths file is used as an initial value for the PATH variable. It should contain:


Its protection, owner and group should be:

-rw-r--r-- root wheel

/etc/paths is used by /usr/libexec/path_helper ... man path_helper says "default PATH and MANPATH values are obtained from the files /etc/paths and /etc/manpaths respectively." The file should exist so that PATH is set correctly.

  • But it is not necessary right?
    – user244378
    Nov 13, 2017 at 7:38
  • Uh creidhne thanks for your reply I have added the paths file and there is a typo in your answer there are two /usr/bin so I replaced one of them as /bin.
    – user244378
    Nov 13, 2017 at 8:57

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