I have heard you can send messages to other users in Terminal with the command "talk" or "write". If you can in fact do this, how?


The command is just talk. It's disabled in OSX by default. See the comment at the end.


talk alex

It will then open a split screen and ping the other person to chat to you. They have to be logged into your computer at the same time though. Given that most Macs are single-user, this is unlikely, but possible. Have a friend connect in via SSH or screen-sharing and give it a go.

write allows you to write straight onto the other users console. By default though users have it disabled. You can turn it on with 'mesg y'.

write alex

Then type away to irritate the other user.

These are pretty old unix commands. Been around on linux/UNIX for years and years.

The man pages will help you too:

man write
man talk
man mesg

You can test this on one computer by creating a different ID and opening up Terminal with two windows. In the first window log back into your box with the other ID:

ssh otherid@localhost

Then write to the main users Terminal:

write mynormaluser


write alex

You'll see the text appear in window 2 of the Terminal

To get talk to work on OSX you need to enable it first. As root run this:

launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ntalk.plist

or, as a super user:

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ntalk.plist
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  • ok thanks. Is is possible to do with another computer? Tried the talk command but keeps saying "checking for invitation on caller's machine" – Emma Louise Jul 21 '13 at 5:11
  • talk alex@anothermachinename -- but, if you're going across the internet you'll probably be blocked by a firewall. On the local network that's less likely but still possible. It's not a command service to have running. – Alex Jul 21 '13 at 5:17
  • what is the machine name? Haha sorry- not too computer savy, maybe this is a dumb question – Emma Louise Jul 21 '13 at 5:19
  • The bit after the @ sign. The name is whatever the hostname of the other computer is. – Alex Jul 21 '13 at 5:25
  • is the like the network it's on or what? – Emma Louise Jul 21 '13 at 5:26

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