Hosting Customized Homebrew Formulae

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Scenario: You’re installing something from Homebrew and, for whatever reason, that standard formula isn’t working for you. What do you do?

I used this opportunity to learn a little about how Homebrew formulae generally work. It wasn’t something where I had my own app to deploy, but it also wasn’t something I wanted to submit as a PR for an existing formula. For example, I wanted to have the bash and wget formulae use a different main URL (one of the mirrors). The current one works for 99% of folks, but for reasons I won’t get into, it wasn’t working for me.

This process is called “creating a tap” - it’s a repo you’ll own with your own stuff that won’t go into the core Homebrew repo.


  • Create a GitHub repo called homebrew-XXXX where XXXX is how Homebrew will see your repo name.
  • Copy the original formulae into your repo. Anything with a .rb extension will work - the name of the file is the name of the formula.
  • Install using brew install your-username/XXXX/formula.rb

Let’s get a little more specific and use an example.

First I created my GitHub repo, homebrew-mods. This is where I can store my customized formulae. In there, I created a Formula folder to put them in.

I went to the homebrew-core repo where all the main formulae are and found the ones I was interested in updating:

I copied the formulae into my own repo and made some minor updates to switch the url and mirror values around a bit.

Finally, install time! It has to be installed in this order because otherwise the dependencies in the bash and wget modules will try to pull from homebrew-core instead of my mod repo.

brew install tillig/mods/gettext
brew install tillig/mods/bash
brew install tillig/mods/libidn2
brew install tillig/mods/wget

That’s it! If other packages have dependencies on gettext or libidn2, it’ll appear to be already installed since Homebrew just matches on name.

The downside of this approach is that you won’t get the upgrades for free. You have to maintain your tap and pull version updates as needed.

If you want to read more, check out the documentation from Homebrew on creating and maintaining a tap as well as the formula cookbook.