brew-desc.rb - Searchable descriptions for Homebrew formulas

What is it?

It's an external command for Homebrew. It provides short descriptions for many Homebrew packages, and I hope to eventually include all Homebrew packages. You can also search for packages by description.


If you already know the name of a package, and you want to see a bit about it, that's easy:

$ brew desc mutt
mutt: Mongrel of Mail User Agents (part Elm, Pine, Mush, mh, etc)

If you know the kind of thing you're interested in, but not the name of specific items, that's easy too:

$ brew desc -s key-value
redis: A persistent key-value database with built-in net interface
kumofs: A scalable and highly available distributed key-value store
cassandra: Highly scalable, eventually consistent, distributed key-value store

Both -s and --search are acceptable. Searches are always case insensitive. (Notice that as a Homebrew external command, you invoke the script as brew desc.)


You can now install brew desc in two ways.

  1. Tap this repository and install via brew itself.
  2. Install manually.

For the first method, do the following:

brew tap telemachus/homebrew-desc && brew install brew-desc

For the second method clone or download this repository. Then simply put the file brew-desc.rb anywhere in your $PATH. For example:

mv brew-desc.rb ~/bin

Leave the name as is if you follow this method. Homebrew knows how to find it.

Once you've installed via either method, you can use the command as described above.


I started this project with the descriptions from the MacPorts ports tree. I also used the Debian package descriptions to fill in many missing descriptions. I have edited both sources in many cases for consistency and length.

The following people have also contributed to the project:


There are still many, many items without descriptions.

Please fork, add descriptions (or edit the ones already here) and send a pull request.

One style rule for the descriptions: Please keep them < 80 characters. That will make the output neater in standard terminal windows.