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To compile Inkscape from source you will need:

  • Mac OS X > 10.3
  • XCode Tools (with gcc)
  • 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: 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 with X11, using MacPorts

Installing dependencies

You can use MacPorts to list Inkscape dependencies:

port deps inkscape

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

sudo port install boehmgc gtkmm intltool libxslt lcms popt boost

Others provide additional functionality to Inkscape:

  • gnome-vfs : access to remote servers, in particular import from Open Clipart Library
  • aspell : check spelling of text elements [Note: I have never seen it working on OS X]
  • libgnomeprintui
  • loudmouth : jabber library used by InkBoard
sudo port install gnome-vfs aspell 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 built-in help:

 cd packaging/macosx/
./ help

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

./ update autogen configure build install -s package

or more simply

./ u a c b i -s p

or even more simply

./ all -s

Step by step instructions

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

Setting the build environment

MacPorts'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 -b /path/to/install/prefix/bin/inkscape -p ../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.

You can also add pre-compiled python modules to the app, which other users can take advantage of. See the built in help for the syntax:

./ -h

Creating a disk image to distribute Inkscape created at the previous step is completely independent from the original location of the libraries 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:

./ -p

in the packaging directory for Mac OS X (where your app bundle should be, otherwise modify the path to

Compiling a Universal Binary of Inkscape with X11, using the all-in-one build script

To build a Universal Binary 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 on sourceforge).

The process is:

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

Compiling Inkscape with native GTK using MacPorts [experimental]

This process will be very similar to compiling a X11 version of Inkscape except for the building of dependencies: you will need to build native versions of GTK and Cairo. At the moment (2007-09-31) this process does not produce a usable version of Inkscape but the more people try to use it, the quicker the bugs will be ironed out!

Native version of GTK and Cairo

In theory you should be able to install a second MacPorts tree independent from your usual one (in /opt/local-native/ for example) but I did not manage to have the two cohabit so I would advise doing everything in your regular MacPorts tree. However, this should not be too much of a problem thanks to the power of port "variants" and port "deactivation".

You need to deactivate (suppress from the tree without really uninstalling) current version of gtk, cairo, cairomm and pango:

sudo port deactivate gtk2 cairo cairomm

Then install native variants:

sudo port install cairo +quartz cairomm +quartz gtk2 +quartz

There is currently an incompatibility with gtk and cairo native ports. It is reported in this ticket at MacPorts [1] (Note 22/10/07 : with my freshly installed MacPorts I did not get any compile errors and skipped the patch, the ticket is still open though) You need to edit the Portfile for gtk2 according to the Portfile patch:

sudo port edit gtk2

and add the patch to the files directory next to the Portfile. If you edit your file in a Cocoa editor just Command+click on the filename in the window title bar and this will bring a menu with the file hierarchy down to the Portfile. Go one step up and you're there. Otherwise the path is


Pango without X requirements

(Note 22/10/07 : with my freshly installed MacPorts this variant was already there)

Then you need to prevent Pango to try using Xft or X to render fonts. To do this kind of cleanly we'll create a new variant for Pango, called no_x. So:

sudo port edit pango

and, after configure.arg add:

variant no_x description {Remove X and Xft rendering} {
	configure.args-append --with-x=no
	depends_lib-delete lib:libX11.6:XFree86 \

The deactivate pango and install the new variant:

sudo port deactivate pango
sudo port install pango +no_x

Install the rest

Eventually, follow the regular install procedure:

sudo port install libxslt boost boehmgc gtkmm lcms intltool popt

Get inkscape source code and go in the mac OS X specific packaging directory

cd packaging/macosx

There edit to remove the configure option --enable-osxapp because it puts inkscape in a .app bundle where it is started together with X11, which would defeat the purpose of this native compilation. You can also specify an alternative install prefix if you want. Then

./ u a c b i

and a native version of Inkscape is installed in the prefix you specified or in the Build/bin directory of Inkscape's source code. You can test it by

 cd ../../Build/bin/

NB: if you compiled a GTK theme engine against your old GTK install (i.e. the one with X11) and try to use it with the new install, it will complain, so edit ~/.gtkrc-2.0 to remove the offending theme.

Compiling Inkscapewith native GTK using the all in one build script [experimental]

To build a native-GTK build of Inkscape, GTK and some of its dependencies must be built with special options. You can do this using the script from the Inkscape repository (it's in packaging/macosx/native-gtk/). This is a modified version of the Imendio native build script, found with instructions on this page:

This process is relatively untested. If you have any troubles using this process then please report them to Michael Wybrow (mjwybrow on sourceforge).

The process is:

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

Enabling python effects

moved to GettingEffectsWorking


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.