Building KiCad on macOS

Building on macOS requires care, as specific versions of dependencies are required in order for all KiCad features to compile and work properly. To simplify this process, we strongly recommend that all macOS users use our kicad-mac-builder utility, which contains the toolchain that produces the official macOS release builds of KiCad.

This utility can be used to set up a development environment for KiCad even if you just wish to build the sources without creating a full release package (DMG containing the KiCad applications and libraries).

Building without kicad-mac-builder is possible but is not supported by the KiCad development team. If you wish to pursue this route, please use the latest state of the kicad-mac-builder repository for guidance as to which packages to install and how to configure and build them.

KiCad requires a custom fork of wxWidgets on macOS to work properly. This fork is hosted at the KiCad GitLab. Currently, the kicad/macos-wx-3.2 branch should be used to build the master branch of KiCad. If you use kicad-mac-builder to set up your build environment, the correct version of wxWidgets will be downloaded and built for you automatically.


As of version 7, KiCad requires macOS 11 or higher to build (the build outputs can be run on some older verisons of macOS). KiCad supports Apple’s arm64 architecture as well as x86_64, and the packaging scripts can produce a "universal binary" that will run on either architecture. You must take care to maintain a consistent architecture when building on arm64, which kicad-mac-builder will try to ensure for you. Building some of the dependencies for arm64 and some for x86_64 will result in linker errors (or Python errors) later in the process.

Setting up development environment using kicad-mac-builder

This guide assumes you already have the appropriate Apple C++ development toolchain (Xcode) for your macOS release installed. See Apple’s documentation for details on how to install Xcode or the Xcode command-line tools. kicad-mac-builder will not install this for you.

To obtain kicad-mac-builder and set up the KiCad build dependencies, run the following on an Apple arm64 machine:

softwareupdate --install-rosetta --agree-to-license # only required if you did not already install rosetta
cd <your preferred working directory>
git clone
cd kicad-mac-builder
WX_SKIP_DOXYGEN_VERSION_CHECK=1 ./ --arch arm64 --target setup-kicad-dependencies

Or, on an x86_64 (Intel) machine:

cd <your preferred working directory>
git clone
cd kicad-mac-builder
WX_SKIP_DOXYGEN_VERSION_CHECK=1 ./ --arch x86_64 --target setup-kicad-dependencies
The first command,, will install Homebrew if it is not already installed, and install all the KiCad dependencies that are available as Homebrew packages. You may wish to manually install the required dependencies instead of running this script. If so, simply inspect the script to see the current list of required Homebrew packages to install. The example bootstrap scripts are used for native compilation on the two Apple architectures. There is also an x86_64-on-arm64 option that can be used for cross-compilation on arm64 machines.
The bootstrapping scripts are designed to run in a "clean" installation of macOS on our CI build machines. If you already have Homebrew installed to a non-standard directory, do not run Instead, inspect the script and adapt the commands in it to your environment. If you already have Python installed, especially if you use a tool like pyenv to manage Python versions, you must ensure that the python3 that is found first on your PATH matches the target architecture you are building KiCad for.

At the end of the kicad-mac-builder build process, will print a list of suggested CMake arguments to the terminal.

It is recommended you save either the independent list of variables OR the toolchain file path. You will need these when configuring your KiCad build. The use of the toolchain file means you only have to set -DCMAKE_TOOLCHAIN_FILE=<path> in the cmake arguments later. Future reruns of KMB will keep the toolchain file updated.

You can rerun to get all the variables again at any time.

Building KiCad

Now you are ready to build KiCad itself. Run the following to obtain and build KiCad:

cd <your preferred working directory>
git clone
cd kicad
mkdir -p build/release
mkdir build/debug               # Optional for debug build.
cd build/release
cmake <arguments from kicad-mac-builder> ../..
make install

Paste in the arguments you saved from earlier after the cmake command. Note that you may want to inspect and modify some of the arguments before using them:

By default, kicad-mac-builder will set the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX to ./build/kicad-dest inside your kicad-mac-builder directory. Edit the arguments provided by kicad-mac-builder if you want to install KiCad to a different location.

By default, kicad-mac-builder will set CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE to RelWithDebInfo to create an optimized release build with debugging symbols. Change this to Debug to create an unoptimized build that can be debugged using lldb.

We recommend using Ninja instead of make for faster builds. To do so, run brew install ninja and then add -G Ninja to your cmake arguments.

Running and debugging

On macOS, starting from 7.99 nightlies, you can set the KICAD_RUN_FROM_BUILD_DIR environment variable and launch any KiCad executable from the build directory for run or debug. This is generally done in the target launch configuration options of IDEs like CLion.

You can also create and run the entire app bundle by running make install (or ninja install) to package a complete and then launch that. You can use lldb to debug the application, or attach to a running copy.

The installed package will be self-signed by the installation process. This will allow it to run on the local machine, but this package cannot be distributed to other machines without triggering Apple’s security measures.

Updating dependencies

At the moment, kicad-mac-builder is designed to run in a "clean-slate" environment and does not automatically handle dependency updates. From time to time, you may wish to update your KiCad build dependencies. To do so:

  1. Run git pull inside your kicad-mac-builder folder to sync with KiCad upstream.

  2. Delete the contents of the ./build directory.

  3. Re-run the setup-kicad-dependencies step as described above.

It is possible to rebuild only certain dependencies by deleting certain folders inside the ./build directory, however this is an advanced usage and will not be documented here. Inspect the cmake files inside the kicad-mac-builder subdirectory to figure out what to do.