I'm searching for an OS X program that will open a plain text box, and allow me to type either a directory path, a file path, or a shell script, and have it open/execute my input.

Are there any programs like this on the market?

  • 1
    You would like to look into QuickSilver. I don’t have time to write more, but this is your answer.
    – duci9y
    Oct 27, 2012 at 16:51

3 Answers 3


App launchers and utilities like Launch Bar and Quicksilver can be pretty useful, but you might want to try learning the command line. After all, the Windows Run prompt is just a single line command prompt.

It can be a bit daunting, but you can just learn bit by bit, and after a while you'll be able to do some pretty powerful things.

To get started, open up Terminal (found in /Applications/Utilities).

Here are a few basic commands that you'll find useful:

  • open opens whatever path it's followed by. Some examples:
    • open /Applications/ opens the Applications folder in Finder.
    • open ~ opens your home folder. ~ is shorthand for your home folder (i.e. /Users/you.
    • open ~/Documents/myfile.txt opens myfile.txt in your Documents folder in whatever application is set to open that file.
    • You can use open to open a file in a specific app with the -a flag. open -a TextEdit website.html would open that file in TextEdit, and open -a Safari website.html would open the same file in Safari.
      • open -a followed by an application, with no file or path specified will activate that application.
  • ls lists the contents of the current directory, or any other directory you specify.
    • By default, your current directory is ~, so if you specify a file without a path, the command line looks for it in your current path. But you can specify a full path to address any file in your filesystem.
  • cd changes your current directory. E.g. cd ~/Documents moves you to your Documents folder, and cd /Applications moves you to the applications folder.
  • Bonus: say "I know now why you cry, but it's something I can never do"

That's just a small fraction of what you can do with the command line, but perhaps it will whet your appetite. If you want to learn more, there are tons of resources out there for learning the command line — OS X's command line is very similar to BSD and Linux, so many resources applying to those will be helpful. There's also a big thread here on Ask Different with various tips and tricks for the terminal.

  • As a programmer I use the Terminal every few minutes, so this wasn't really the tutoring I needed :) Appreciate the elaboration though
    – Dor
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:26
  • 1
    Haha oh well. Hopefully someone will find it useful.
    – robmathers
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:30

Well, for opening a file/folder and/or app I am pretty much used to Spotlight (type cmd-space).

For a shell script, well... I use spotlight as well to open Terminal, then I type my command. The only problem is that Terminal sometimes takes some seconds to launch, so this workflow might not suit you...


Take your pick: (in no particular order)


how about the finder's Go To Folder (CMD + SHIFT + G). The secret is that it does tab completion in the text box. If you narrow down to a file all it will do is open a finder window with the file selected. CMD + O to finish the job.

  • I'll second the recommendation for LaunchBar - it's my drug of choice for extending the keyboard to perform many advanced tasks without needing a mouse or a trackpad.
    – bmike
    Oct 27, 2012 at 17:03
  • These are all an overkill for my needs. I am using Alfred, and liking it very much, but its search is too fuzzy and lacks the precision of Windows' Run feature.
    – Dor
    Oct 27, 2012 at 22:24
  • i added another thing i find useful
    – jackslash
    Oct 27, 2012 at 23:32

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