OS X: Setting system-wide environment variables

I believe up until Yosemite, I didn’t have issues setting up environmental variables (i.e. JAVA_HOME) via my .bash_profile. As I upgraded, that no longer worked, so I found another way: use a custom .plist in your LaunchAgents folder:

  1. Go to ~/Library/LaunchAgents
  2. Add something like the below and then reboot, or unload-load it via launchctl unload
  3. That’s it!
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
    <plist version="1.0">
        <string>launchctl setenv APPS_CONFIG '/Users/anton/box/Source/apps_config' | launchctl setenv CATALINA_BASE '/usr/local/Cellar/tomcat7/7.0.63/libexec' | launchctl setenv CATALINA_HOME $CATALINA_BASE | launchctl setenv HOMEBREW_GITHUB_API_TOKEN 'b20aeb90b4d0cbc8352bdc6059073b7be473e4e3' | launchctl setenv JAVA_HOME '/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.8.0_51.jdk/Contents/Home/' | launchctl setenv M2_HOME $'/usr/local/Cellar/maven@3.2/3.2.5/libexec' | launchctl setenv GATLING_HOME '/usr/local/Cellar/gatling/2.1.7/'</string>

My custom bash prompt

I wanted more information in my bash prompt, such as date/time and the directory I was in.  Here’s what it looks like:


And this is what I added in my ~/.bash_profile:

PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\d \T &gt; \[$(tput sgr0)\]\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\] : \[\033[01;34m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\n\$ '

Run source ~/.bash_profile and enjoy. 🙂

BTW, there’s also a website that you can use to create your own: http://bashrcgenerator.com/.

Switching between multiple Java versions on OS X quickly

If you’re a Java developer like me, you will need to work on various Java versions. If so, adding the following in your ~./bash_profile makes switching between versions a snap. (As of this writing, I’m running on OS X El Capitan.)

alias java6='export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.6);java -version'
alias java7='export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.7);java -version'
alias java8='export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.8);java -version'
alias java9='export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 9);java -version'

NOTE: Java 9 above is the beta version, so it may be 1.9 once it’s been finalized.

Cannot find setclasspath.sh when starting up Tomcat 7

In attempting to start Tomcat 7 on my MacBook Pro on El Capitan, I was getting the following error:

amp-macbook:Cellar anton$ catalina start
Cannot find /usr/local/Cellar/tomcat7/7.0.63/libexec/bin/setclasspath.sh
This file is needed to run this program

I found the issue to be due to my CATALINA_HOME environment variable. To resolve this, just do the following from your terminal:


That’s it!