Get System Information from the Command Line in Mac OS X
Regardless of how many Mac’s you administer, there will surely come a time when you’ll need to retrieve relevant System Information. This can be done from the graphical interface with the Apple System Profiler utility, but often you’ll need to pull system details from the terminal as well.
Gathering system information from the command line is vital for system and network administration, so the next time you’ve accessed a machine through SSH, you can certainly find out what you need to know with two helpful command line tools. You can get almost any system details imaginable with these powerful utilities, each is slightly different, so here how, using the the sw_vers command and the system_profiler command:
How to Get OS X System Version with sw_vers
The sw_vers command is short and sweet, it will give you the current Mac operating system version and build number of OS X, with usage and output as such:
ProductName: Mac OS X
How to Get Mac System Details with system_profiler
system_profiler is just a command line interface to the Mac GUI app System Profiler (which is found in the Utilities folder of OS X). It’s very handy for learning about a machine over a network or remote connection via SSH. The standard output will blast you with screenfulls of content so it is best to pipe through the more command as follows:
$ system_profiler | more
This will allow you to view the output of system_profiler one screen at a time, navigable by the arrow keys and page up/down.
The system_profiler tool is often best used in conjunction with grep so that you can find specific information, whether that’s the video card used on a Mac, a display type, serial number, speed of a Mac, total installed memory, the manufacturer of a hard drive, or just about anything else.
Use whichever tool is necessary for the job, they’re both extremely useful.
If you’re looking for information on your Airport connection, be sure to use the hidden Airport utility discussed here.