Guidelines and HOWTOs/Build from source/Mac

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Several methods of building KDE / KF5 on Mac are available, and it is not firmly established, yet, which one is "best". The two main approaches are using either a "stock" version of Qt, or a "patched" Qt. The latter has several patches meant to make KF5-applications work better on Mac. It also follows the file system layout of KDE on Linux, which should mean that KDE applications will be more likely to work correctly, without adjustments.

There is some hope that the required patches will eventually become available in official Qt packages, but this is not the case as of this writing. The main drawback with this is that Qt has to be compiled on your computer, adding hours to your setup time. The main advantage is that most things can be expected to work out of the box.

Installation using patched version of Qt and MacPorts

  • Install Macports
    • Note: If you have an existing installation of MacPorts and installed ports that depend on Qt, see this mail.
  • Install git, if you don't have it yet:
sudo port install git 
  • Get the ports tree for patched qt and frameworks:
# We assume you're doing this in your home directory
cd ~
git clone
# create index
cd macstrop
  • Register the new ports with Macports. To do so, edit ${prefix}/etc/macports/sources.conf, where prefix is the root path of your MacPorts installation (/opt/local by default). Add the following line above any other path specifications (thus making sure it will take precedence):

It is recommended that you build the patched Qt before any frameworks, in order to make extra sure all dependencies are resolved, correctly:

sudo port install qt5-kde

You can now start building frameworks or applications (if already packaged), using e.g.

sudo port install kf5-parts
sudo port install kf5-kate
sudo port install kf5-frameworkintegration     # will get the most common frameworks in one go

Many ports have additional variants, such as "+docs" for handbooks / API documentation:

sudo port install kf5-kate +docs
port variants kf5-kate       # list available variants
port notes kf5-kate            # show any notes

Installation using stock version of Qt and Craft

Install required tools and libraries

Required tools and libraries can be installed using either Homebrew or Macports, as described below.

In both cases, you will need to download and install XCode, first.

Homebrew (plus official Qt installer)

  • Install Qt (use the official Qt installer, recommended version Qt >= 5.6)
  • Install homebrew and get some basic dependencies (
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
brew install cmake wget coreutils p7zip gettext ninja python3 bison boost shared-mime-info
  • Optional: You might need some extra environment variables
export CMAKE_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/Cellar/gettext/
export CMAKE_INCLUDE_PATH=/usr/local/Cellar/gettext/
export PATH=/usr/local/Cellar/bison/3.0.4/bin:$PATH
# Setup environment (path must contain your Qt install, here 5.7 default location and brew's gettext)
export PATH=/Users/cullmann/Qt5.7.0/5.7/clang_64/bin:/usr/local/Cellar/gettext/$PATH

Macports (including Qt)

sudo port install git qt56 cmake wget coreutils p7zip gettext ninja python36 bison boost shared-mime-info p5-any-uri-escape
  • Add GNU coreutils to your system path:
export PATH=/opt/local/libexec/gnubin/:$PATH

Install Craft

 wget -O && python3.6 --prefix ~/kde

Using craft

  • Every time you want to use craft in a new shell, you need to set up the craft environment, first:
. craft/
  • In this shell, now craft is usable, e.g. to build Kate with all dependencies:
craft kate

Deploying applications

  • To create a app bundle (+ dmg file), you need to have the breeze-icons around:
craft breeze-icons
  • To do deploy all things, unfortunately at the moment you need a patched macdeployqt. Example scripty for kate can be found on kate.git/mac/
    • If you installed qt using Macports, your copy of macdeployqt should be patched, already. It will not be in your system path by default, however. Find it at /opt/local/libexec/qt5 .

This page was last modified on 25 August 2017, at 12:33. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.