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Mon, Nov 23, 2015 9:49 pm

Determining software versions from the command line

If you want to know which version of an application is installed on a Mac OS X system you can do so from within the GUI using the About option. E.g., in the Safari web browser you can click on Safari and select About Safari. You can also determine the version of applications installed on an OS X system by clicking on the Apple icon in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen then selecting About This Mac, then More Info, then System Report, then Software, and then clicking on Applications beneath Software as shown at Determining the version of the OS and applications under OS X.

However, if you wish to determine the version of an application from a command line interface (CLI), aka a shell prompt, which you can get using the Terminal application found in Applications/Utilities you can use the command system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType. If you pipe the output of the command to the more command you can page through the list that is output by hitting the space bar when the colon (:) prompt is displayed.

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$ system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | more
Applications:

    Microsoft Lync:

      Version: 14.2.1
      Last Modified: 10/2/15 8:52 PM
      Kind: Intel
      64-Bit (Intel): No
      App Store: No
      Get Info String: 14.2.1 (150923), © 2010 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
      Location: /Applications/Microsoft Lync.app

    Junos Pulse:

      Version: 5.0
      Last Modified: 4/17/14 4:27 PM
      Kind: Intel
      64-Bit (Intel): No
      App Store: No
      Location: /Applications/Junos Pulse.app

    Microsoft Database Utility:

      Version: 13.1.6
:

If you are interested in the version of a particular program, such as Safari, you can use the grep utility to search for the application name followed by a colon and then after grep display the two lines that appear after it finds a match. E.g.:

$ system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | grep -A 2 "Safari:" 
    Safari:

      Version: 6.2.8

If you just want to see the version number as output, you can pipe the output of the above command to the cut utility, instructing it to display the string that starts in column 16 of the line that contains "Version" as shown below. The -c 16- parameter instructs cut to display characters from column 16 to the end of the line.

$ system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | grep -A 2 "Safari:" | grep "Version:" | cut -c 16-
6.2.8
$ system_profiler SPApplicationsDataType | grep -A 2 "Junos Pulse:" | grep "Version:" | cut -c 16-
5.0

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