Homebrew, the third-party package manager for macOS, adds a great deal of flexibility for managing applications from the Terminal. Much like its Linux-based cousins, macOS is given complete control over software installations and configurations after the Homebrew system files are initially installed.
Despite the added management capabilities, Homebrew is susceptible to random issues that may interfere with it working properly. This guide will tackle three common problems that might affect your Homebrew installation and provide a way to correct each one.
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Cannot find file(s)
Arguably, the most common error encountered by end users is a missing file or library. While the error message could reference anything from a Homebrew system file to a component used to run a particular application, the root cause is oftentimes the same: macOS has been upgraded.
It is a good security practice to keep your OS up-to-date with patches, though these patches can and often do break something when trying to fix another issue. With respect to Homebrew, it may affect the installed components, preventing them from running commands due to a file being modified during the update process.
To fix missing file errors, it is recommended to run the command below in order to upgrade Homebrew itself, updating the package manager's support for newer operating systems:
Homebrew error when upgrading
Homebrew has its own built-in upgrade mechanism that when executed causes the system to connect to the online repository to download only the necessary files to upgrade to the latest version of the package manager.
But what happens when the upgrade mechanism is displaying the error? This could pose a bigger problem as the solution to the problem is unavailable. Luckily, this error is often tied to a previous version of the Homebrew upgrade command cached within the system's folders.
To remove outdated files no longer being tracked by Homebrew, run the following command:
git clean -f
No Command Line Tools present
In order for Homebrew to function properly, it depends on Xcode, Apple's development environment, to be installed. While Xcode tools are typically installed by default when the macOS installer is run, Xcode may not be present on your Mac or may be an outdated version.
To install or reinstall Xcode, execute the command below and then reboot your system to ensure the dependancies are covered before re-running Homebrew:
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Where to find more Homebrew support tips
By no means is this a comprehensive guide to resolving all of the possible issues that may arise while using Homebrew. You can get additional help by visiting Homebrew's GitHub support page, which is maintained by developers and experienced users with up-to-date information and fixes. Also, check out the Homebrew Troubleshooting page.
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What are your experiences using Homebrew? If you have handy tips for using Homebrew that you'd like to share, please post them in the comments. We love to hear from our readers!
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.