How to Backup and Restore your Homebrew packages

31 May 2020 Apple 2 mins read

Homebrew makes it easy to install and keep installed software up to date on your Mac - as part of my backup routine for my Mac I want to be able to run a single command to reinstall all packages.

If you're searching on how to backup & restore Homebrew, then I assume you're here for the commands.


Brewfiles are files generated with definitions that Homebrew reads and processes, a generated Brewfile looks similar to the below

tap "heroku/brew"
tap "homebrew/bundle"
tap "homebrew/cask"
tap "homebrew/cask-versions"
tap "homebrew/core"
tap "homebrew/services"
brew "borgmatic"
cask "iterm2-beta"

You can then run the following command to restore all taps, programs and cask-based applications in one go

brew bundle


Simply run the following command to set up the repository

brew tap Homebrew/bundle

Once complete, you can then perform a single command to backup to your home directory.

brew bundle dump

By default, the Brewfile will be located at ~/Brewfile


As mentioned before you can run the brew bundle command to restore from the backup but this will only restore from ~/Brewfile

You can use specific arguments to choose your Brewfile location

brew bundle --help
--file                       Read the Brewfile from this location. Use
                                     --file=- to pipe to stdin/stdout.

Using --file  will allow you to select different Brewfiles. An example of this can be selecting a file from a different snapshot.

brew bundle --file=~/Brewfile-20200531
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Sandeep Bansal
Marketing Cloud Technical Architect
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