Consider the following lines from a "ps auxwww" output:

root      4262   0.0  0,1    76592   1104 s005  Ss   10:02am   0:00.03 login -pf yo
yo        4263   0.0  0,0    75964    956 s005  S    10:02am   0:00.03 -bash

How do I force ps to expand all commands in the COMMAND column to their fully qualified path names? I want login to be resolved to /usr/bin/login and Bash to /bin/bash.

Is there an equivalent to procfs in Mac OS X? That is - is there a file-based mechanism to easily obtain process information?


Try this instead:

ps ax -o pid,cmd

You can reformat it as you wish (read the man page for details).

Finally, I think that ps (and even cat /proc/*/cmdline) will report the command the way it was launched. So if no full path was given, it will appear as just "command" instead of "/path/to/command".

  • 6
    Close! On OS X and FreeBSD (and probably other BSD-based systems) it's "ps axwww -o pid,command". – Gerald Combs Sep 4 '09 at 17:07

Firstly, processes can change the title reported by ps, so it's not very reliable in itself. You could try the environment variables using the 'e' flag.

ps auxwwwe

Within these should be a builtin '_' variable as described here.

For every command that is run as a child of the shell, sh sets this variable to the full path name of the executable file and passes this value through the environment to that child process.

This holds true for sh on BSD as it does Linux. I believe that this can't overwritten by the user. However, its availability may depend on the user's choice of shell, it's pretty nasty and your mileage may vary.

OS X doesn't have a native procfs. There is a port based upon FUSE. Details can be found here. Again, your mileage may vary.

  • 1
    Ewwww ! – Dennis Williamson Sep 4 '09 at 12:41
  • The (last) link is broken (404). (However, the OP has left the building.) – Peter Mortensen Nov 20 '20 at 5:07

Stop messing around with ps and use cat /proc/pid/cmdline .

You can use wildcards such as /proc/*/cmdline .

  • Check question #2 about procfs. – Dan Carley Sep 4 '09 at 12:39
  • This does not display the fully qualified path name (in all cases), only how it was launched. For example, if the Python 3 interpreter was launched as python3 in a terminal window and its PID was 5981, then cat /proc/5981/cmdline would display python3. – Peter Mortensen Nov 20 '20 at 5:03

Extract all process ids and full path from /proc:

ls -l /proc/*/exe 2>/dev/null | awk '{print $8 " " $10}'
  • Sample output of ls -l /proc/5981/exe is: lrwxrwxrwx 1 embo embo 0 Nov 20 05:25 /proc/5981/exe -> /usr/bin/python3.8 – Peter Mortensen Nov 20 '20 at 5:17

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