Brewfile: a Gemfile, but for Homebrew

Gabe Berke-Williams

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

Homebrew users on macOS can define system dependencies for their projects with a Brewfile:

# Brewfile
brew "openssl"
# a comment
tap "homebrew/dupes"

The brew bundle command is automatically installed the first time it is used. Simply create a Brewfile at the root of your project’s directory tree, and run brew bundle while in that directory.

Note that Homebrew will treat lines that start with # as comments. To install a package, use brew, and to tap a repository, use tap. So this:

brew "openssl"
# a comment
tap "homebrew/dupes"

is equivalent as these commands:

brew install openssl
brew tap homebrew/dupes


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

  • In dotfiles, either yours or your company’s.
  • 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 checking out the source of the brew bundle command. For more Homebrew tricks, read through our macOS-related posts.