How to Get Back the macOS Default $PATH?

Hey Folks

I think I am in big trouble ....

Maybe I have messed up my $PATH - and I didn't know that I did...

Thinking about getting more Shell Scripting - Skills and writing a bash profile I yesterday executed this Terminal command echo $PATH to get my default Path....

This Is what I got as answer from Terminal....


Thought about trying the BibTex Suite a couple months ago but removed it from my System because it was too much for me to configure at this time...

It seems that I haven't removed it Correctly form my System....

  • How can I get my default $Path back?
  • How to get rid of the rest of the BibTex Suite?

System: macOS High Sierra

Hope someone can help me

greetings from Germany

Hey Tobias,

BIG Trouble? I don't really think so.

The $PATH is where the terminal looks for executables, and having an extra directory or two isn't very likely to cause major problems. Although – under extreme circumstances it could cause problems.

Apparently you already have a bash profile – .profile – .bashrc – or something similar.

Open your home directory in the Finder.

Press .

This will reveal the invisible items in the directory.

Run this in the Terminal:

find ~ -name ".*" -maxdepth 1

It will display the invisible items in your home directory as well.

You can then eyeball or use the Find in the Terminal to look for strings like:

  • .bash_profile
  • .bash_login
  • .profile

Once you've found your customization file, you can edit it appropriately.

Save a backup copy of the original, before you start messing with it though.


Thank you for your quick answer Chris

I know that there is a default File .... But I am just at the beginning writing and editing a .profile or .bashrc ....

  • what can I do at this POV ?
  • How can I get rid of the rest from the BibTex Suite?


this is what my .bash_profile is currently containing....

# Setting PATH for Python 3.7
# The original version is saved in .bash_profile.pysave
export PATH

What is POV?

I've explained that.

You have to find the current working Terminal customization (text) file where the path has been altered and edit it.


Point of View

In his Article Armin Briegel wrote

For example, macOS sets the PATH environment variable to /usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin by default

so I have to write into my .bash_profile something like this:

export PATH

is that correct ?

Edits do not notify other users, so it's better to create a new post. I only saw the edit by chance.

This clearly doesn't contain /Library/TeX/texbin ...

Agh!  You'd have never found it – it's well hidden – and the Google was NOT kind when searching for how BibTex alters the system path.

Look here:



That would be a bandaid.

You want to fix the problem. See Post #7.


I'm sorry Chris .... only thought about mentioning that I have edit my post... will make it better next time.....

Yes you're right .... I wasn't able to find anything..... it is really tricky... :joy:

but you have nailed it ....

that is a shot of my /private/etc/paths.d/

Bildschirmfoto 2021-06-24 um 14.46.07

It is only that single File in there - what to do with it ?

just trash or anything else?

Okay maybe I have found out ....

Opened Terminal and executed this Command: cat /etc/paths.d/TeX

this was the output: /Library/TeX/texbin

After that I opened /Library/ and found the Directory TeX

Bildschirmfoto 2021-06-24 um 15.16.08

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Deleted both - the TeX Directory and the TeX file

now my Terminal gives me this using echo $PATH:

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Just to add a few additional notes:

  • While /etc/paths.d/ is a standard way to add things to the $PATH there are a lot of apps that do not use it. See man path_helper for more info on it.

  • Newer versions of macOS use zsh as the default login shell, so you should look for changes not only in ~/.bash_profile, ~/.profile and ~/.bash_login but also ~/.zprofile, ~/.zshenv and ~/.zshrc

  • If you are still stuck, check /etc/profile and /etc/bashrc as well as /etc/zprofile, /etc/zshenv and /etc/zshrc just to make sure that some over-eager developer didn't decide to modify those directly (which they should not, but potentially could, so…).


Thanks @tjluoma

I'll look into that when using newer Versions of macOS

greetings from Germany

It's shameful that Bash, Zsh, etcetera don't have a command to list all active config files...


Question, does Time Machine save these files?

@hello - As long you don't exclude them I think they should be saved with Time Machine so they can be easily restored.....

Stay safe


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