On OSX, setting the PATH variable in .profile, .zshrc or .bashrc defines the search path for all console commands, but, unfortunately, it does not have any effect for UI programs (apps), typically stored in /Applications.

This might be an issue if you are using external commands from within an app. Typically this is the case for development environments as Visual Studio Code. For example, the go toolchain will not be found by the go plugin for Visual Studio Code, if you installed go from source. Therefore developers are starting their IDEs usually from the terminal by running a command-line program (called code in the case of Visual Studio Code) as a starter. That way the app inherits the environment from the terminal.


But there is a way to change the default path for all applications. Something like a system wide path variable. You need to create additional files in /etc/paths.d, each containing one or multiple path components. Each path component hast to be in a single line. (The files must be owned by root:wheel)

For example I want to have the two paths /Users/myusername/Library/golang/go/bin:/Users/myusername/Library/golang/packages/bin added to my PATH variable. So I created a file called gocontaing these two lines:


Problems having double path elements in $PATH ?

Adding the desired path components to /etc/paths.d sets the path for applications and Unix-like command-line programs. So there is not really a need to manipulate the path variable in your .bashrc. If you use both ways this might end up in duplicate entries.

But in case you want to share the .bashrc with between multiple machines, maybe a Linux, you may use the following shell function to add each single path component to the $PATH. So instead of the typical export $PATH=$PATH:/my/new/pathcomponent you simply type addPath /my/new/pathcomponent. The function will add its argument only if it isn’t already part of $PATH.

addPath() {
  #addPath adds a new pathcomponent to $PATH avoiding duplicates
   IFS=':' read -r -a pcomponents <<< "$PATH"
   for i in "${!pcomponents[@]}"
      do if [ x"${pcomponents[$i]}" == x"$1" ]; then
   if [ x$FOUND == x0 ]; then
     export PATH=$PATH:$1