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Guide to installing QGIS on a Mac

A step-by-step guide to installing QGIS on a Mac

Step 1: System Requirements

Before you begin the installation process, ensure your Mac meets the following system requirements:

  • macOS 10.13 (High Sierra) or later
  • At least 4 GB of RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • A minimum of 2 GB of free disk space

Step 2: Download QGIS

  1. Open your web browser and navigate to the official QGIS website: https://qgis.org.
  2. Hover over the “Download Now” button on the homepage.
  3. Click on the “macOS” option.
  4. You’ll be redirected to the macOS download page. Here, choose the appropriate version for your system. For most users, the latest ‘Long Term Release’ (LTR) is recommended as it’s the most stable.
  5. Click on the download link for the ‘QGIS macOS Installer’. This will start downloading the .dmg file.

Step 3: Install QGIS

  1. Once the download is complete, locate the .dmg file in your Downloads folder and double-click on it.
  2. A new window will pop up with the QGIS application icon and an Applications folder shortcut.
  3. Drag the QGIS application icon to the Applications folder shortcut. This will copy QGIS to your Applications folder.
  4. Once the copying process is complete, you can eject the QGIS disk image by dragging it to the Trash or right-clicking and selecting “Eject”.

Step 4: Allow QGIS to Run

The first time you try to open QGIS, macOS might prevent it from running because it’s downloaded from the internet.

  1. To allow it to run, go to “System Preferences” > “Security & Privacy”.
  2. Under the “General” tab, you’ll see a message about QGIS being blocked. Click the “Open Anyway” button.
  3. A confirmation dialog will appear. Click “Open” to run QGIS.

Step 5: Initial Setup

The first time you launch QGIS, it might take a few moments to initialize. Once open:

  1. You can choose a user interface language if prompted.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the QGIS interface. You’ll see panels for layers, tools, and a map canvas.

Step 6: Install Plugins (Optional)

QGIS has a rich ecosystem of plugins that can enhance its functionality.

  1. Go to “Plugins” > “Manage and Install Plugins…” in the QGIS menu.
  2. Browse or search for plugins and install the ones you need.

Step 7: Start Mapping!

You’re now ready to start your GIS projects. You can add layers, analyze data, and create maps using QGIS.

Remember to regularly check for updates to ensure you have the latest features and security patches. Enjoy mapping with QGIS!

If you are interested in QGIS and open source geospatial tools you might also enjoy our podcast

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about installing QGIS on a Mac:

Is QGIS free to use?

Yes, QGIS is an open-source software, which means it’s free to download, use, and modify.

What’s the difference between the Long Term Release (LTR) and the latest release?

The LTR is a version of QGIS that is considered more stable and receives regular bug fixes. The latest release might have newer features but could also have more bugs since it’s still being tested by the community.

I’m getting a security warning when trying to open QGIS for the first time. Is it safe to proceed?

Yes, this is a common macOS security feature for apps downloaded from the internet. You can allow the app to run from the “Security & Privacy” settings in System Preferences.

Can I install QGIS on an older version of macOS?

    While it’s recommended to use a version of macOS that meets the system requirements, older versions of QGIS might be compatible with older macOS versions. Always check the QGIS website for compatibility details.

    How do I uninstall QGIS from my Mac?

    To uninstall, simply drag the QGIS application from the Applications folder to the Trash. Additionally, you might want to remove related files in the ~/.qgis2 directory.

    Are there any known issues with QGIS on macOS?

    Like any software, there might be occasional bugs or issues. It’s a good idea to check the QGIS website or forums for any known issues specific to macOS.

    Do I need any additional software or libraries to run QGIS on my Mac?

    The standalone QGIS installer for macOS usually includes all the necessary libraries. However, for certain plugins or advanced features, additional software might be required.

    How can I get help if I encounter problems during the installation?

    The QGIS community is active and supportive. You can seek help on QGIS forums, mailing lists, or other online platforms dedicated to QGIS users.

    How often is QGIS updated?

    QGIS is actively developed, with new releases coming out regularly. It’s a good idea to check for updates periodically to benefit from new features and bug fixes.

    Can I use QGIS alongside other GIS software on my Mac?

    Yes, QGIS can coexist with other GIS software on your Mac without any issues.

    About the Author
    I'm Daniel O'Donohue, the voice and creator behind The MapScaping Podcast ( A podcast for the geospatial community ). With a professional background as a geospatial specialist, I've spent years harnessing the power of spatial to unravel the complexities of our world, one layer at a time.

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