Guidelines and HOWTOs/Build from source/Mac


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 reason for patching being that KF5-applications will not be able to locate their resources (and particularly theme icons) out of the box with current stock versions of Qt.

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
    • Since the patched version of Qt is not co-installable with a regular version of Qt (in the same prefix), you may want to install MacPorts to a non-default path, e.g. /opt/kf5, esp. if you are using other Qt packages in MacPorts.
  • 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:

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

sudo port install kf5-parts


sudo port install kf5-kate

The patched Qt itself is available as

sudo port install qt5-kde

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/0.19.7/bin:$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

# Prepare some build directory in your home directory, here we assume:
mkdir ~/kf
# Switch to this build dir
cd ~/kf
# Get Craft
git clone git://
# Copy Mac OS X config template to right location, should be OK to use out of the box
mkdir etc
cp craft/kdesettings.mac etc/kdesettings.ini

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 edited on 26 March 2020, at 20:27. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.