**UPDATED FOR QGIS 2.16 – 07 Oct 2016**
QGIS is an impressively powerful open source geographic information system (GIS). In 2010, I reviewed QGIS when it had an “All-In-One” installation bundle for the Mac. That one-step installation has gone by the wayside, and while QGIS is an excellent GIS solution for Mac users, installation is much more of a chore. As a software developer myself, I can only imagine the installation process discourages use by the average consumer (and by average, I mean moderately sophisticated GIS users).
If you’re in that camp, this guide is for you… it provides (without warranty) a step-by-step guide to successfully install the supporting frameworks and the QGIS software. These instructions are for QGIS 2.16 built for Mac OS X Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan, and (hopefully) MacOS Sierra.
Installing QGIS on a Mac
Step One: Honesty
Installing most software on a Mac is easy, but installing QGIS on a Mac is a pain (though it is getting easier with each release!)¹. I’ve stumbled through it a couple of times now.
There are supporting frameworks that must be installed first, and in a particular order, before the QGIS installation can begin. If you try installing QGIS before installing the supporting frameworks, you’ll likely see an error message like this:
Also, always read the ReadMe files included with your downloads before installing. For example, this important ReadMe message is included with the QGIS Installer:
If you have an old QGIS.app in your Applications folder, trash it before installing QGIS 2.16.Old files may not be deleted by the installer, which may cause problems for QGIS2.16
In summary, the following download is required:
- Download QGIS for Mac Installer. There is no need to download and install these frameworks individually if this package is installed. All required items are included on the disk image, which includes:
- GDAL Complete.pkg (installs framework package)
- NumPy.pkg (installs python module)
- Matplotlib.pkg (instalsl python module)
- Install QGIS.pkg (installs the app!)
10 8 Steps
STEP 1. To allow installation of non-Apple developer recognized software, first change your Mac Security Preferences to ‘Allow apps downloaded from: Anywhere’
STEP 2. Download the ‘QGIS for Mac’ installer
Download QGIS for Mac Installer. Double-click the ‘QGIS-2.6.1.dmg’ to view its contents:
STEP 3. install GDAL Complete — double-click the ‘GDAL Complete.pkg’ and step through its installation.
STEP 4. Install NumPy — double-click the ’NumPy.pkg’ and step through its installation.
STEP 5. Install Matplotlib — double-click the ‘matplotlib.pkg’ and step through its installation.
STEP 6. Install QGIS — double-click the ‘Install QGIS.pkg’ and step through its installation.
STEP 7. Proceed to your Applications folder and find the QGIS app. Double-click to launch.
Be patient, it took a little less than a minute on first launch for my copy of QGIS to fully open. Also, even if you are familiar with GIS software, don’t expect QGIS to be completely intuitive. Like any new app, you need to take the time to learn its features and user interface. Fortunately, there are some terrific learning resources available, like the QGIS Tutorials and Tips by Ujaval Gandhi and the QGIS User Guide.
You now have a sophisticated GIS software to learn and enjoy. Depending on your needs, you might even want to add some of the QGIS Plugins.
STEP 8. Your almost done! To finish things off you should do the following:
a. Change your Mac Security Preferences back to ‘Allow apps downloaded from: Mac App Store and Identified Developers’ (or Mac App Store only).
b. Save the QGIS.dmg files, since they each contain uninstall instructions should you ever need them.
¹ Software isn’t always easy. I really appreciate the great work of good folks who support this open source (and free) software. The main release packages for QGIS for Mac are maintained by Kyngchaos, aka William Kyngsburye. (thank you!)