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Top Terminal easter eggs

Yeah, the headline makes it sound like the eggs are on their deathbed. But no, easter eggs (in software jargon) are little presents or surprises that developers have slipped into an application or operating system. One excellent place to find easter eggs in Mac OS X is in the Terminal.

Now technically, these easter eggs aren't part of Mac OS X. The Terminal app is a portal into the UNIX underpinnings of Mac OS X. You can find the Terminal app in the Applications > Utilities folder. Here are four of my favorites:

1. Important dates in history -- Lord of the Rings style

At the Terminal prompt paste the following: cat /usr/share/calendar/calendar.history and press return. You'll get a list of famous dates throughout the centuries -- including some that take place in Middle Earth.

2. Snake Game

At the Terminal prompt type in emacs, then press enter. You'll see a bunch of text come up. Once it does hold down the ESC key and press X. If you timed your presses right, you'll notice the cursor has moved to the bottom of the page next to the letters M-x. Now type in snake and enjoy!

3. Tetris

Follow the same steps as for the Snake game. At the Terminal prompt type in emacs, then press enter. You'll see a bunch of text come up. Once it does hold down the ESC key and press X. If you timed your presses right, you'll notice the cursor has moved to the bottom of the page next to the letters M-x. This time, type in tetris. Use the arrow keys to move and rotate the blocks, and press the space to make the blocks fall.

4. Emacs psychoanalysis


Like the previous two, this last easter egg is an extension of the emacs UNIX command. At the Terminal prompt type in emacs, then press enter. You'll see a bunch of text come up. Once it does hold down the ESC key and press X. If you timed your presses right, you'll notice the cursor has moved to the bottom of the page next to the letters M-x. This time, type in psychoanalyze-pinhead. You'll get a speedy conversation between two doctors. Press Ctrl-G to stop the conversation and then read the transcript.

All these easter egg tips were taken from The Easter Egg Archive which lists Easter eggs found in movies, TV, books, art, music, and software. Check out the site for many more Mac easter eggs and please post any that you know of in the comments!

[Binary egg photo by Rakka]

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UNIX / BSD

Yeah, the headline makes it sound like the eggs are on their deathbed. But no, easter eggs (in software jargon) are little presents or...