Written by thoughtbot

Brewfile: a Gemfile, but for Homebrew

Bundler users define dependencies for Ruby applications in a Gemfile and install those dependencies by running bundle install.

Homebrew users can define dependencies for their OS X operating system with a Brewfile and install those dependencies by running brew bundle. Let’s write a basic Brewfile:

# Brewfile
install openssl
# a comment
link --force openssl

Note that Homebrew will treat lines that start with # as comments. Every other line will be passed to brew. So this:

install openssl
# a comment
link -f openssl

is run as these commands:

brew install openssl
brew link --force openssl


I can think of a few places where a Brewfile would be welcome:

  • In dotfiles, either yours or your company’s. For example, we use it in our excellent dotfiles repo.
  • A setup script for your app (bundle install && brew bundle)
  • A setup script for a new machine. I often forget to install one of them (like rbenv-gem-rehash).

It’s a neat encapsulation for non-programming-language dependencies like phantomjs.

What’s next?

If you found this useful, I recommend reading through the source of the brew bundle command. For more Homebrew tricks, read through our OSX-related posts.