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To compile Inkscape from source you will need:

  • Mac OS X 10.4 (10.3 support is on the way, you are welcome to help if you still have a machine running 10.3)
  • XCode 2.3 on OS X 10.4 (i.e. with gcc 4.0.1)
  • Inkscape's source code. You can get the official release source code, a SVN snapshot or a copy of the SVN repository.
  • Inkscape's dependencies, for example glibmm, gtkmm, lmcs, boehm gc... You can use a package distribution system (Fink or MacPorts, formerly known as DarwinPorts) or Inkscape all-in-one universal build script to install them. Inkscape requires a recent version of gtk, hence only MacPorts can be used at the moment. Once Fink updates gtk it should not be a problem to use it.

Compiling Inkscape using Mac/DarwinPorts

Installing dependencies

You can use DarwinPorts to list Inkscape dependencies:

port deps inkscape

Some are mandatory and you can install them with the command:

sudo port install boehmgc gtkmm gnome-vfs intltool libxslt lcms popt

Others provide additional functionality to Inkscape:

  • aspell : check spelling of text elements [Note: I have never seen it working on OS X]
  • boost : auto-organisation of connectors [Note: is boost still needed?]
  • libgnomeprintui
  • loudmouth : jabber library used by InkBoard
sudo port install aspell boost libgnomeprintui loudmouth

For the impatient

There is an automated build script for Mac OS X included with Inkscape source code, in the directory packaging/macosx. It has builtin help:

 cd packaging/macosx/
./ help

Basically to configure, build, install and package Inkscape into a double clickable app bundle you just need to issue the command

./ conf build install -s package

or more simply

./ c b i -s p

Step by step instructions

If you want to know what you do or to understand how the build script works, please read the following paragraphs.

Setting the build environment

DarwinPorts's hierarchy (/opt/local/) is not searched for libraries by default. Therefore, before the configuration starts, some environment variables need to be set. The environment variables are presented in bash syntax here.

export LIBPREFIX="/opt/local"
#  automake seach path
export CPATH="$LIBPREFIX/include"
#  configure search path
export CPPFLAGS="-I$LIBPREFIX/include"
#  compiler arguments
export CFLAGS="-O3 -Wall"

You can also use ccache (sudo port install ccache) to speed up the compilation a bit. To do so, add compiler variables:

export CC="ccache gcc"
export CXX="ccache g++"


If you compile Inkscape for the first time from an svn checkout you probably need to build the configure script. Navigate to Inkscape's source directory and run:


Then run configure with the options --disable-static --enable-shared and --prefix which sets the directory where the build products are placed. It must be somewhere you have write access to.

./configure --disable-static --enable-shared --prefix=/path/to/build/products/

I you want to package Inkscape into a double-clickable .app bundle in order to access it like a regular OS X application (you probably want to do it), you need to add the option --enable-osxapp:

./configure {...} --enable-osxapp

If you have loudmouth installed and you want to enable whiteboard functionality in Inkscape, add --enable-inkboard.

Other configuration options can be set, check the list of options by issuing:

./configure --help

Building and Installing

Just run:

make install

Creating an .app bundle

Assuming that you have used the --enable-osxapp option during configure, navigate to Mac OS X packaging directory in Inkscape source code and use the automated script:

cd packaging/macosx
./ -s /path/to/install/prefix/bin/inkscape ../Info.plist macosx

The script copies Inkscape binary and all its dependencies into the app bundle. The -s options strips libraries from debugging information (the bundle is therefore smaller). Omit this option if you want to keep debugging info.

Creating a disk image to distribute Inkscape created at the previous step is completely independant from the original location of the librairies and can therefore be distributed. It will only work on one platform though (PPC or Intel): the one you built it on. The most widespread way of distributing applications on Mac OS X is via .dmg images. You can created a dmg image of Inkscape, with a nice background, with the script:


in the packaging directory for Mac OS X.

Compiling a universal binary of Inkscape using the all-in-one build script

To build a universal build of Inkscape you also need to build Universal versions of all its dependencies (i.e., gtk+, cairo, pango, etc). You can do this using the script from the Inkscape repository (it's in packaging/macosx/native-gtk/).

This process is relatively untested, as it is only being used by Michael Wybrow for official Inkscape release builds. If you have any troubles using this process then please report them to Michael (mjwybrow at

The process is:

       export PREFIX=/your/install/prefix
       export UNIVERSAL_BUILD=Yes
       ./build-gtk bootstrap
       ./build-gtk build inkscape

Compiling Inkscape as a native application (no X11)

Derek Hinchliffe's text to go here

Enabling python effects

Many "effects" in the Effect menu of Inkscape use python as a scripting language. Mac OS X ships with python but without some packages that Inkscape uses: pyXML and numpy.

Binary packages

You can install a binary version compiled by us (thanks to krolco for the Intel version) downloadable with the developement builds of Inkscape:

or in an official stable package for 0.44.PPC or later (their name contains "+python"). You need to copy the folders for pyXML (_xmlplus) and numpy (numpy) to /Library/Python/2.3/site-packages/ (there is a link in the dmg on which the folders can be droped).

Compiling from source

If you prefer or if you are on an Intel machine, you can install them from source, it is really easy.


  1. download the source code from sourceforge
  2. unpack the .tar.gz file
  3. cd into the newly created directory
  4. set the variable MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET to version of your operating system (10.3 for Panther, 10.4 for Tiger, 10.5 for Leopard. It probably won't work on previous systems). In bash syntax this means typing:
  5. move the python files and build C extensions by just typing
    python build
  6. install (the install is system wide so you need administrator rights)
    sudo python install
    and type your password.


  1. download the source code from sourceforge
  2. unpack the .tar.gz file
  3. cd into the newly created directory
  4. build C extensions and install (the install is system wide so you need administrator rights)
    sudo python install
    and type your password.


Apple Documentation

  • Introduction to Runtime Configuration Covers the Info.plist files, Preferences, Environment variables and has a list of the most important Properties that the Property List should contain.


  • Sveinbjorn Thordarson's Website The author of Platypus, the Script Exec wrapper that launches the Inkscape binary.
  • Creating OS X application bundles step by step Covers the bundle concepts, copying libraries into the bundle, editing libraries with the install_name_tool, the Info.plist file and adding an icon.
  • Bringing your Java Application to Mac OS X I would regard this a little dated, and the detail is (unsurprisingly) Java-related, but it is a gentle introduction to the role of the .app bundle and give a most clear account of how to create one.
  • The Gimp .app Howto This is a very bare document, and would be of little help to you if you were new to making packages. Note that it seems to refer to a more mature Clipboard technique and Online help than we currently have; and we ought to move to parity in these areas.