Command line utilities are often reserved for the geekiest amongst us, but many of them are actually better than desktop alternatives. In fact, many are easier to use, waste fewer resources, and often have more keyboard shortcuts. Let's take a look at some of our favourites.
Photo by ADE2013
On the surface, the command line is a scary and dangerous place, but it's a lot easier to work with than it seems at first. Once you get the hang of the command line, you can do all kinds of fun stuff in there, including replacing some of your desktop apps with command line versions that take up less space and use less system resources. Don't be scared, dive in, and check out some software.
Pianobar Plays Pandora, No Flash Required
Pianobar is a lightweight utility that plays and manages your Pandora radio stations from the command line. This means you don't need a browser running or Flash installed. That's enough of a reason on its own, but the real appeal of Pianobar is the customisable keyboard shortcuts. You can customise keybindings to whatever you want, so playing, skipping and liking songs is super easy.
Castnow Streams Movies To Chromecast Without Chrome
If you want to stream movies from your computer to your Chromecast, it's easy as long as you have Google Chrome installed. If you don't like Chrome (or just want to cast without running the browser), Castnow is an alternative way to stream right from the command line. With it, you can stream videos from your hard drive, YouTube videos, and even torrents. As you'd expect, you get a lot of useful keyboard shortcuts as well.
Gifify Builds GIFs Quickly And Easily
There are tons of options for making your own GIFs, but most require a bit of skill and some extra desktop software. Gifify does everything from the command line and it's a lot easier to use because of it. With just a few commands, you can create a GIF out of any video you have in a matter of seconds. All you need to do is point Gifify to the video, pick a start and stop time, and off you go.
Todo.sh Manages Your To-Do List In Versatile Plain Text
We're big fans of plain text for to-dos because it's simple, versatile, and works anywhere. If you want to take that a step further, Gina Trapani's command line version of Todo.txt is for you. With it, you can edit your to-dos, archive tasks, and do just about anything else you'd need to do with a to-do list — no mouse required. You can manage everything from the command line and display your to-do list in just about any app you want, since plain text works anywhere.
Vim Is A Distraction-Free, Keyboard-Driven Writing App
You have a zillion options for text editing apps. If you want a distraction-free experience and don't feel like paying for an app, then Vim is for you. It's an incredibly powerful programming text editor that lets you customise it extensively. It's also packed with enough keyboard shortcuts that once you get the hang of it, you'll never want to use a mouse again. That said, getting the hang of Vim can take some effort, but thankfully there are many apps that teach you the basics.
H264enc Encodes Videos, DVDs And Blu-Rays
For whatever reason, programs that encode videos, DVDs and Blu-Rays tend to be filled with other useless junk so they're often a bit obnoxious to use. H264enc uses MEncoder to simplify encoding down to the absolute basics. With it, you can easily convert video files, DVDs, and Blu-Rays to the H.264 format, including MKV, AVI, and more by just typing in a command. If you're not the type of person to convert videos all the time, H264enc is nice to have around in place of the more bloated desktop alternatives (we still love Handbrake though).