How to Open Websites On A Web Browser Using A Command on Mac (OSX)?

April 13, 2019  2 minute read  

Learn how to write simple shell script to open websites on a web browser window by using a command.

Shell Script

You can use open command to open specified URLs on a web browser.

Open Command

1) To read documentation of ‘open’ command, run man open on your terminal. The following is part of the documentation which says that ‘open’ command is used to open files and directories.

OPEN(1)                   BSD General Commands Manual                  OPEN(1)

     open -- open files and directories

     open [-e] [-t] [-f] [-F] [-W] [-R] [-n] [-g] [-j] [-h] [-s sdk]
          [-b bundle_identifier] [-a application] file ... [--args arg1 ...]

     The open command opens a file (or a directory or URL), just as if you had
     double-clicked the file's icon. If no application name is specified, the
     default application as determined via LaunchServices is used to open the
     specified files.


     The options are as follows:

     -a application
         Specifies the application to use for opening the file


2) To open a website using your default web browser, you can use open YOUR_URL command.

$ open

3) Note that -a flag is used to specify which application to open. Thus, to open a website on Google Chrome browser, the command would be open -a "Google Chrome" YOUR_URL. This will open the specified URL on an already opened Google Chrome window instance.

$ open -a "Google Chrome"

4) To open a website on a new window instance, you can add --args --new-window flag. The command would be:

$ open -a "Google Chrome" \
  --args --new-window

5) If you would like to open multiple URLs, you can append multiple URLs to the command and multiple websites will be opened. Note that --args --new-window flag can’t be used when you use the following command to open multiple websites.

$ open -a "Google Chrome" URL1 URL2 URL3

Shell Alias

If you open certain websites frequently, you may consider creating an alias for this command. It works like a shortcut command.

To add an alias, open up your ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc file and add the following command to your script. Save the file and reopen your terminal so that changes to bashrc or zshrc can take effect. You can use vim to edit bashrc or zshrc file by running vim ~/.bashrc.

alias jun = 'open'
alias blog = 'open -a "Google Chrome"'

Function with Argument

You can also create a function so that you can specify which website or which page of a website to open. You can add the following function in your ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc file.

function load() {
  if [ $# -eq 0 ]; then
    open -a "Google Chrome"
    open -a "Google Chrome"$1

$# variable represents the number of arguments(positional parameters) passed with the command.

-eq means equal.

$1 variable is the value of a command’s first argument.

You can then, open my blog using the following commands.

# open 
$ load

# open
$ load categories


With this configuration to your Shell to open a URL on your web browser, you can save time from typing the same website URL over and over again.

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