Understanding the difference between these two systems is paramount to getting your docker development skills out to sea. This is a brief summary of what they are comprised of, and how they differ.

Docker Toolbox

Running Docker previous to Docker for Mac was done using the Docker Toolbox. It uses VirtualBox and installs the tools: docker, docker-compose, docker-machine in /usr/local/bin. If you run Docker in VirtualBox then you run commands and interact with Docker a little differently.

To use Docker Toolbox in Terminal:

$ docker-machine env

It will output some env vars, and list a command do use to enable your terminal for Docker Toolbox:

export DOCKER_HOST="tcp://"
export DOCKER_CERT_PATH="~/.docker/machine/machines/default"
export DOCKER_MACHINE_NAME="default"
Run this command to configure your shell: 
eval $(docker-machine env)

When using Docker Toolbox, the app web services are only accessible to the browser using docker-machine IP address, which would be: from the output above.

Docker for Mac

Docker for Mac is a Mac native application, that you install in /Applications. At installation time, it creates symlinks in /usr/local/bin for docker and docker-compose. With it, you won’t really need to use docker-machine directly.

Tip: One of the advantages of the newer Docker for Mac solution is that it uses native virtualization and does not require VirtualBox to run Docker.

To check if things out:

$ env | grep DOCKER

If this command returns no output, you are ready to set sail using Docker for Mac.