Objective-c – Execute a terminal command from a Cocoa app


How can I execute a terminal command (like grep) from my Objective-C Cocoa application?

Best Solution

You can use NSTask. Here's an example that would run '/usr/bin/grep foo bar.txt'.

int pid = [[NSProcessInfo processInfo] processIdentifier];
NSPipe *pipe = [NSPipe pipe];
NSFileHandle *file = pipe.fileHandleForReading;

NSTask *task = [[NSTask alloc] init];
task.launchPath = @"/usr/bin/grep";
task.arguments = @[@"foo", @"bar.txt"];
task.standardOutput = pipe;

[task launch];

NSData *data = [file readDataToEndOfFile];
[file closeFile];

NSString *grepOutput = [[NSString alloc] initWithData: data encoding: NSUTF8StringEncoding];
NSLog (@"grep returned:\n%@", grepOutput);

NSPipe and NSFileHandle are used to redirect the standard output of the task.

For more detailed information on interacting with the operating system from within your Objective-C application, you can see this document on Apple's Development Center: Interacting with the Operating System.

Edit: Included fix for NSLog problem

If you are using NSTask to run a command-line utility via bash, then you need to include this magic line to keep NSLog working:

//The magic line that keeps your log where it belongs
task.standardOutput = pipe;

An explanation is here: https://web.archive.org/web/20141121094204/https://cocoadev.com/HowToPipeCommandsWithNSTask