Get A Random Line From A Text File On The Mac Command Line

I'm working on a little command to display a random quote every time I open a new terminal window. I setup a file with a bunch of quotes. Each one is on its own line.

To pull a random quote/line, I'm using:

sort -R quotes.txt | head -1


  • The sort -R creates a randomized set of lines from the file
  • Then head -1 cuts it down to just the first line. It works great


  • Lots of notes on the web say to use shuf -n 1, but that's not installed by default on my machine running macOS 12.x Monterey.
  • The sort and head commands were available on my machine without having to install anything. That said, it's possible that something else that I installed with homebrew also installed them. Your milage may vary.