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Cecelia Martinez
Cecelia Martinez

Posted on • Updated on

Mac Web Developer Setup: Terminal, zsh, Git, Node, VS Code, Homebrew, and GitHub CLI

I’ve had to set up a Macbook for development three times this year, and hit road blocks each time. This time, I decided to write down and record the process based on what I’ve learned from previous attempts.

Table of Contents

My machine specs: Macbook Air, M1, Monterey 12.6

Here is my checklist, complete with links to documentation, run commands, and notes for potential issues you may encounter. It’s important to complete the steps in order, as there are dependencies installed in each step required for later installations.


These are based on my experience with trial and error setting up a machine. If you have recommendations for improving this process, please comment!

Video walkthrough of the process:

1. iTerm2

Terminal alternative for Mac, recommended to me and I’ve used it for years.


2. Xcode Command Line Tools (CLT)

This should be installed already via Step 1, but it's important to validate the entire package was installed.


  • validate full package installed via iTerm2 with xcode-select -p
  • Should see /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools
  • Run ls /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/bin/git
  • Should see /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/bin/git
  • Source:

3. Git

Installs automatically with Xcode CLT, but also important to validate installation was successful.


4. ZSH

ZSH is the shell used in your terminal. As of MacOS 10.15, ZSH is the default over Bash. If you are using Bash or have Bash installed, your setup will be different.


5. NVM

NVM is recommended to navigate between versions and to avoid permission issues when installing Node directly on Mac.


  • Run curl -o- | zsh
  • Restart terminal instance
  • Validate nvm installation with nvm -v
  • nvm install --lts
    • This installs the latest long-term support version of Node, recommended for most users (
    • Can also specify a certain version or nvm install node for latest version
    • first version installed becomes default, to update default in the future run nvm alias default <VERSION>
  • validate Node installation with node -v
  • Source:

Troubleshooting Notes

  • Source:
  • Since macOS 10.15, the default shell is zsh and nvm will look for .zshrc to update, none is installed by default. Create one with touch ~/.zshrc and run the install script again (already handled with step 4)
  • Homebrew installation is not supported. If you have issues with homebrew-installed nvm, please brew uninstall it, and install it using the instructions below, before filing an issue.
  • For Macs with the M1 chip, node started providing arm64 arch darwin packages since v16.0.0. For earlier versions, there were only darwin_x64 packages available but no darwin_arm64. If you are facing issues installing node using nvm, you may want to update to v16 or later.
  • You might need to restart your terminal instance or run . ~/.nvm/ Restarting your terminal/opening a new tab/window, or running the source command will load the command and the new configuration.

6. VSCode

A popular free code editor/IDE from Microsoft that provides a built-in terminal and various plugins for development.


7. Homebrew

Recommended for GitHub CLI installation, and can be used for managing other packages installed globally on your Mac.


  • Xcode CLT required for installation (already handled with steps 1+2)
  • Run /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL [](" and follow prompts to install
  • May receive warning that brew is not in PATH with next steps. Run these two commands in your terminal to add Homebrew to your PATH:
    • echo 'eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"' >> /Users/cecelia/.zprofile
    • eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"
  • Validate install with brew -v
  • Source:

8. GitHub CLI

Highly recommended for interacting with GitHub from the terminal. You can skip if you prefer to use GitHub Desktop or interact with GitHub via Git and HTTPS/SSH, you can skip this step.


  • brew install gh
  • Run gh auth login
  • Select or GitHub Enterprise
  • Select HTTPS or SSH
  • Set title for SSH key
  • Select Login via web browser, this will launch GitHub in your browser
  • Create key if needed and authenticate in web browser
  • Terminal output will confirm you are authenticated
  • Validate with gh auth status
  • Source:

Now you are all set up and ready to start developing! Check out the documentation for GitHub CLI for more information on how to set up projects, check out pull requests, and more.

Top comments (4)

nerajno profile image
Nerando Johnson

@ceceliacreates .... have you considered ever making a dotfile ?

ceceliacreates profile image
Cecelia Martinez

You know, at this point I really should 😅

seanmclem profile image

when runnint curl -o- | zsh it shames me and says it can only pipe to bash

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