Is there a way to get OSX codename (I.e. Yosemite, El Capitan etc) from command line? I'm not looking for Version information (e.g.

sw_vers -productVersion

) which gives 10.10 etc Thanks!

  • 2
    I think there’s no reliable way to do this from within bash (Terminal). Even system_profiler (which spits out a pretty exhaustive set of info) doesn’t include those names (which I think Apple calls the “marketing version”). Maybe you’re trying to solve a problem by looking for that codename? If so, be careful you’re not falling into the XY Problemxyproblem.info Oct 6, 2015 at 1:35
  • 1
    Aren't there only ten of them? Why not just get the version information and translate it using a hardcoded lookup table?
    – Wildcard
    Oct 6, 2015 at 6:16
  • @wildcard: this is what I've been doing so far but every time a new version come out I have to update and redistribute my library... Or do you already know the future names?
    – lviggiani
    Oct 7, 2015 at 21:55

5 Answers 5


I'm sure there's got to be an easier and more-reliable way, but at least you can eliminate the pipe to sed altogether by using grep with -o (prints only matches) and -E (extended regular expressions):

grep -oE 'SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X.*[A-Z]' '/System/Library/CoreServices/Setup Assistant.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf'

This does, however, also return the SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X portion of the output. If you just want the codename, you could pipe it to sed, but it would not require any back-references using the dreaded -E flag that BSD sed is so infamous for:

grep -oE 'SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X.*[A-Z]' '/System/Library/CoreServices/Setup Assistant.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf' | sed "s/SOFT.*OS X //"

Personally, I prefer the awk method instead:

grep -oE 'SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X.*[A-Z]' '/System/Library/CoreServices/Setup Assistant.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf' | awk -F 'OS X ' '{print $NF}'

Pure awk solution:

awk '/SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X/' '/System/Library/CoreServices/Setup Assistant.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf' | awk -F 'OS X ' '{print $NF}' | awk '{print substr($0, 0, length($0)-1)}'

(I'm sure there's a way to do it without piping to additional awk processes, but I'm not a pro.)

  • In at least macOS Sierra, you need to remove the " OS X" portion from these, as the line now reads `SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR macOS Sierra`. The filename thankfully remains the same, though.
    – ecmanaut
    Mar 3, 2017 at 1:02

How about this :

$ sed -nE '/SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR/s/([A-Za-z]+ ){5}|\\$//gp' /System/Library/CoreServices/Setup\ Assistant.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf
  • Thanks! This worked without any issue
    – nerding_it
    Jul 8, 2021 at 5:56

FWIW, here’s a fugly hacky way; it’s probably neither very forward- nor backward-compatible:

  "/System/Library/CoreServices/Setup Assistant.app/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf" \
  | sed -E 's/^SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT FOR OS X (.+)\\$/\1/'

It works at least on the El Capitan and Mavericks systems I checked (and so I would assume on Yosemite). It returns the marketing name in all caps; e.g., EL CAPITAN and MAVERICKS.


From this blog post, I learned that Apple has a web service you can query for the marketing name of macOS for versions 10.7+. You can supply it with the macOS version number you need the marketing name for and it will return XML with the marketing name.

curl -s http://support-sp.apple.com/sp/product?edid=10.12.6

Returns (formatted for display purposes)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
    <name>CPU Name</name>
    <configCode>macOS Sierra</configCode>

If you wish to get the marketing name for the version of macOS that you are currently running, you can run the one liner

curl -s http://support-sp.apple.com/sp/product?edid=$(sw_vers -productVersion) |
xmllint --xpath '/root/configCode/text()' -
  • The http://support-sp.apple.com/method does not work any more for 10.13 and higher. Mar 25, 2019 at 17:33

Struggled for a consistent way to retrieve this information across OS X versions. Apple moved the location of: OSXSoftwareLicense.rtf in High Sierra. Rather than use regular expressions to hit a target that might move, I devised the following:

# Retrieve Apple's marketing name for installed operating system 

# Take the number extracted from here; use it as a reference

osx_num=$(sw_vers -productVersion| awk -F '[.]' '{print $2}')

# Lookup table for OS X marketing names 

["11"]="El Capitan"
["13"]="High Sierra"

# Check if the number extracted is in array; 
# if it is, print marketing name

osx_name () {
  if [[ -n "${OSX_MARKETING[$osx_num]}" ]]; then 
    printf "%s\\n" "${OSX_MARKETING[$osx_num]}"

This works reliably on the four most-recent versions of OS X, and probably others.

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