Open Files in Sublime Text 3 from the Command Line

July 06, 2015 Reading time - 2 minutes

Sublime Text 3 comes with a command line tool called subl which can be used to open files in Sublime Text. However, you first have to do some configurations in order to enable this tool. If you are a heavy command line user, this tool is an absolute life saver.

Setting up the load $PATH

The first step is to create a symlink that will allow you to run subl from the command line. In the documentation on this tool, it is assumed you have ~/bin (or /Users/username/) in your load path, which would be located in /Applications/Sublime Contents/SharedSupport/bin/subl. However, since the /usr/local/bin is already in your load path by default on OS X, it serves as a better place to assign the subl symlink.

To check your load $PATH, you want to run echo $PATH in the terminal.

Your results might vary slightly but it will most likely return /usr/local/bin at the end of the line, which is included by default on OS X.


The first and only step to the installation is to simply run this line in your terminal:

ln -s "/Applications/Sublime" /usr/local/bin/sublime

As a side note, I codefer to name the symlink “sublime” instead of “subl” just to be more specific. Plus, terminal symlinks can be auto-completed by codessing tab once the initial bit of the command has been typed. If the extra keystroke is a bit much for you, feel free to change the line above to the “subl” symlink at the end of /usr/local/bin/.


In your terminal, go to your Documents directory by running:

cd ~/Documents

Next, to test that the symlink is working, open the contents of your Documents folder in Sublime Text. So this will simply be the symlink followed by the file name you want to open, in this case we are opening all contents of the Documents folder.

sublime .


This is a really handy tool to have as a heavy user of the command line. It allows you to remain in the command line while opening directories or files without having to launch your Finder to search around. It is also very useful when opening hidden files in Sublime Text. I found myself using it more frequently than I imagined and I hope it helps your workflow like it has mine.