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Gnucash-Intel-2.6.16 and Gnucash-PPC-2.6.16 are now available as a binary download from the Gnucash project at Sourceforge. Release notes are included in the disk-image. MacOSX 10.5 (Leopard) or higher is required to run Gnucash. For virtually all users it is more appropriate to download the binary rather than to use the procedure described here.


GnuCash can be built to run more or less natively on OSX -- meaning without X11. Better yet, the build is almost automatic.

This page describes the procedure to build GnuCash with the Quartz environment. You can also use MacPorts: The details are described at MacOSX/MacPortsDetail. If you already have MacPorts installed, you should use that procedure, as gtk-osx doesn't work well with a MacPorts installation.

If you want to have a clickable to put in your Applications folder, this is the solution to use. If you want to be able to easily customize your installation, this is also the solution for you. Don't want all of the extra stuff that MacPorts drags in? Well, this might be a bit better... but GnuCash is notorious for its huge list of dependencies. Want to keep up with the latest work from the Gnome developers? You can set up this solution to get many of its packages directly from source-code-control. That's a double-edged sword, of course, because if a build gets broken, you're pretty well stuck until the developers for that package fix it.

This build now integrates Gnucash menus with the mac menubar at the top of the screen. About, Preferences, and Quit are in the "GnuCash" menu (it's named "gnucash-bin" when you run from the command line) in standard Mac style. Standard accelerator keys like Command-Q (quit), Command-S (save), and Command-O (Open) now work as well. A patch to Gtk+ now allows copy and paste in the register pages.

This build system is used quarterly to build the distribution dmgs, and the results run on Leopard (MacOS X 10.5) on both Intel and PowerPC.

NOTE: The development branch, a.k.a. master, includes C++ code that will not compile for MacOS versions earlier than MacOS X 10.9 (Mavericks).


This procedure depends on the Gnome Gtk-OSX project. Support for that is provided via the mailing list. Questions, comments, or suggestions about Gnucash should be directed to the appropriate Gnucash mailing list (gnucash-devel for development versions (2.7.x, git master) or gnucash-user for release versions (2.6.x).)


Leopard or newer is required for Gnucash. Gtk-osx will build for Tiger, but Gnucash uses WebKitGtk which won't build on Tiger.

This procedure uses GTK-OSX, which in turn uses a program called jhbuild.

Download .jhbuildrc-custom into your home directory. It reconfigures jhbuild for building gnucash.

Note that by default, jhbuild will put everything into your home directory. If you prefer to build and install into /usr/local, you can do so by editing the prefix line at the top of .jhbuildrc-custom. You can change it to whatever you like -- or leave it as it is. If you use the /usr/local/gtk and /usr/local/src/gnome settings, you will need to create them and chmod them with sudo before you can use them, of course.

Go to the GTK-OSX Build Instructions and follow the instructions up through running jhbuild bootstrap.


Once all of the preliminaries are complete, run:

 $> jhbuild build

Building Unstable Versions

By default, the .jhbuildrc-custom file will build the current stable release of Gnucash into ~/gnucash-stable. If you want to build unstable or git master versions of Gnucash, edit .jhbuildrc-custom as follows:

Comment out the line prefix = os.path.join(os.environ["HOME"], "gnucash-stable") and uncomment the line #prefix = os.path.join(os.environ["HOME"], "gnucash-unstable")

Similarly, comment out the line modules = ["meta-gtk-osx-bootstrap", "meta-gtk-osx-core", "meta-gnucash-stable"] and uncomment the one that you want to build (meta-gnucash-unstable or meta-gnucash-git).


  • Leopard and Snow Leopard (OS X 10.5 and 10.6 respectively) won't build WebKit-1.10, so there are alternate gnucash metamodules to build WebKit-1.6 instead. If you need to build on an older system, append "-Leopard" to the gnucash metamodule name, e.g. meta-gnucash-stable-Leopard for stable.
 jhbuild build

as before.

  • Because of code in WebkitGTK, GnuCash stable requires Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) or later to build.
  • Because GnuCash master uses C++ fetaures that don't compile on or for earlier versions, GnuCash master requires Mavericks (MacOS X 10.9) or later.
  • Boost is now a required dependency for the master branch. It's in the moduleset, but jhbuild doesn't know how to build it, so it must be done manually. Select
    [4] Start Shell to build and install boost.

At the time of this writing the commands are

./b2 toolset=darwin address-model=32 cxxflags="$CPPFLAGS" cflags="$CPPFLAGS" linkflags="$LDFLAGS" dll-path=$PREFIX/lib -\-prefix=$PREFIX -\-build-dir=$PREFIX/../build/boost_1_56_0
for i in `ls $PREFIX/lib/libboost*`; do install_name_tool -id $i $i; done 
for i in `ls $PREFIX/lib/libboost*.dylib`; do for j in `ls $PREFIX/lib/libboost*.dylib`; do install_name_tool -change `basename $i` $i $j; done; done

But it's always wise to check gnucash.modules for updated instructions. Look out for a comment before the boost module.

Finally hit ctrl-D to return to jhbuild and select 2 three times to proceed to the next module.

Customizing the Configuration

To add configure arguments (e.g., --enable-dbi), add a line


with whatever arguments you want to supply. Note that in order to turn off something that's on by default, you can use (e.g.) --disable-aqbanking. Change gnucash to gnucash-git if that's what you're building.

Note that unless you are running MacOSX 10.5 or 10.6, you will need to change both instances of "10.5" to your MacOSX version in the line

 setup_sdk("10.5", "10.5", ["i386"])

at the top of .jhbuildrc.custom.

Note that if you have Xcode 7 (shipped with MacOS X 10.9) or later you can build for any version from 10.6 on with the included SDK by calling (e.g.)

 setup_sdk("10.6", native, ["i386"])

Note:The master branch is converted to a cmake module which doesn't support customization from .jhbuildrc-custom. If you need a customized build do the build manually with the cmake instructions from Building.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan and Later

OS X 10.11 added a security feature called System Integrity Protection or SIP. One "feature" is that it strips linker environment variables (the ones starting with LD_ and DYLD_) from the environment when a "system" program does a fork/exec. For our purposes "system program" means one installed in /bin or /usr/bin, in particular /bin/sh.

The Guile compiler, guiled, is a shell script that as written uses /bin/sh to set the prefix then execs guile to run a compilation script. That fails on El Cap and presumably will on later versions too.

One can get around this by disabling SIP, but that's a whole-system change that requires a reboot, and SIP clearly has significant security benefits. Don't do that.

The other workaround is to use a shell that isn't in /bin or /usr/bin. One can just copy /bin/bash to one's user directory. Gtk OSX also provides a bash build in the gtk-osx-bootstrap moduleset which is skipped by default. To enable it, uncomment (or add if you're using an older version of .jhbuildrc-custom)


in .jhbuildrc-custom before starting the build. Then, when GnuCash's build fails, just edit $PREFIX/bin/guild to change the first line to


substituting the full path for $PREFIX.

Building Libdbi Drivers

Even though libdbi supports other databases, each one requires custom initialization code in Gnucash, and Gnucash has that code only for Sqlite3, MySql, and Postgresql.

The distributed bundles don't include libdbi-drivers for MySql or Postgresql. If all you need to do is add a driver, instead of

 jhbuild build

you can

 jhbuild build libdbi-drivers

You'll need the MySql or Postgresql client library and headers installed on your system. Next, add the following to your .jhbuildrc-custom:

 module_autogenargs['libdbi-drivers']='--with-sqlite3 --disable-docs --with-sqlite3-incdir="/usr/include" --with-sqlite3-libdir="/usr/lib"'

substituting mysql or pgsql for sqlite3, and using the correct paths to the include and library files for the DBMS you want to use. Make sure this line precedes any lines adding other arguments for libdbi-drivers, like

 append_autogenargs("libdbi-drivers","--with-dbi-incdir=" + prefix + "/include --with-dbi-libdir=" + prefix + "/lib")

This is theoretically possible without gtk-osx using the already-installed libtool, autoconf, and automake, but there are some problems with glibtool provided by Apple, so it's much easier to just use gtk-osx.

You can copy the driver file (which will be named or to There's one last task:

 install_name_tool -change /prefix/path/lib/libdbi.0.dylib  @executable_path/../Resources/lib/libdbi.0.dylib 

substituting pgsql for mysql if that's appropriate and putting in the actual path (which you can see with otool -L for /prefix/path.


The gnucash documentation is online, of course, but if you want a local copy, you can build the modules gnucash-docs or gnucash-docs-git. Just add whichever one you want to your "modules" argument.


To get a debugging build, add the line setup_debug() to .jhbuildrc-custom. Beware, though, that WebKit doesn't build with debugging enabled. I usually build everything first without debugging enabled, then enable it and rebuild (jhbuild buildone --force --clean) the packages I want to debug. Most of the time you can get by with just glib and gnucash, but depending on what you're working on, you might also want gtk+, gwenhywfar, aqbanking, or libdbi.

Running from the commandline

Now you're ready to try it out:

$ $PREFIX/bin/gnucash

($PREFIX is the path to where you've built gtk; you can fill it in yourself or use jhbuild shell to set it for you.

Making a Bundle

So far so good, but you don't really want to have to open a Terminal window every time you want to use GnuCash, now do you? Of course not. You want a nice icon in your Applications folder (and maybe in the Dock) to click on when you run GnuCash. Here's how to do this:

Download the bundler, unpack it, cd into the gtk-mac-bundler directory, and make install
Download gnucash.bundle, Info.plist, gnucash.launcher, and gnucash.icns into the same folder. For the rest of the discussion, we'll call that folder gnucash-bundler.
cd gnucash-bundler
Look through gnucash.launcher and gnucash.bundle and adjust the paths to match your installation.
make gnucash.launcher executable (chmod +x gnucash.launcher)
execute jhbuild shell to set up the environment for the bundler
export PATH=$PREFIX/bin:$PATH because jhbuild shell doesn't do this for some reason
gtk-mac-bundler gnucash.bundle

And your bundle should be ready to go. Try from the command-line so that you can see any error messages. If that works, try open If that works, then you can move to your Applications folder and it's ready to use. (If it doesn't, error messages are written to the console log. You can run IGE_DEBUG_LAUNCHER=1 open to see what the launcher script is doing wrong.)

Bundling Unstable and Git

Similarly, the bundle, Info.plist, and launcher scripts change frequently, so you'll need to either clone git:// or download gnucash-unstable.bundle, Info-unstable.plist, gnucash-unstable.launcher, and gnucash.icns. They all need to be in the same directory, and you'll run gtk-mac-bundler /path/to/gnucash-unstable.bundle.

Documentation: The bundle includes documentation. If you've built it, great, no problem. You need to have it installed for the Help menu items to work. If you didn't build it and you don't want to, then comment out or remove the lines

  <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/GnuCash Help/">

  <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/en.lproj/GnuCash Guide/">

   <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/de.lproj/GnuCash Help/">

  <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/de.lproj/GnuCash Guide/">

  <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/it.lproj/GnuCash Help/">

  <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/it.lproj/GnuCash Guide/">

  <data dest="${bundle}/Contents/Resources/ja.lproj/GnuCash Guide/">
To comment out XML code, surround it like so:
<!-- stuff to be commented out -->
Note that comments cannot contain "--".

Making a distribution

  • On both an Intel and a PowerPC mac, make a clean build including the documentation, making sure that you're not building any libraries with debugging. With all of the dependencies, the package is huge enough without it. Make sure that you're using the latest git masters for gtk-mac-bundler and gnucash-on-osx.
  • Edit the version numbers and, if necessary, the copyright dates in Info.plist (or Info-unstable.plist).
  • Make a bundle as described above. Test it.
  • Download the previous version's .dmg; it has two scripts that you'll need, along with the files License.txt and Sources.txt.
  • Make a directory named for the version that you're going to distribute and move the new bundle into it.
  • Copy the scriptlets "FinanceQuote" and "Update" along with the files "License.txt" and "Sources.txt" from the previous version .dmg to the new distribution folder.
  • Open /Applications/Utilities/Disk and select File>New>Disk Image from Folder in the menu. Select your installation directory in the first chooser and name it appropriately in the second (if you named the folder correctly, you won't have to change anything).
  • Upload both the resulting .dmg to the correct version directory of Gnucash's file manager area on Sourceforge. If this is a stable release, check the "Mac" box on the options panel so that users viewing the project page with a mac will see the new release in the big green button.
  • Upload the .dmg to the release on Github.
  • Update the appropriate links on the Gnucash webpage.

Make Distcheck

If you're going to create the tarballs to upload for a release, you run make distcheck. There are a couple of Mac quirks to work around, so use

 mkdir tmp
 DISTCHECK_CONFIGURE_FLAGS=--disable-error-on-warning TMPDIR="`pwd`/tmp" make distcheck

The first variable lets configure correctly find GLib's gettext bindings (the GLIB_GETTEXT m4 macro issues a compiler warning). The second overrides $TMPDIR, which by default points to a folder in /var/folders and contains characters which choke GConf.

Known Issues

  • Context Help doesn't work. Gnucash Help and the Gnucash Guide are included in the application bundle, in Contents/Resources/English.lproj, but the linkage to the help menu or to help buttons in dialogs doesn't work.
  • An instance of dbus is started by the application startup script, but dbus isn't designed to be run that way, so it doesn't shut down when you close the application. At launch, Gnucash will find the old instance and kill it before starting a new one, but that means that you'll have a stale instance running most of the time. This will get in the way if you want to replace or remove, so you'll have to kill it from Activity Monitor.
  • The conversion of Macintosh default locale to Gtk+ is a bit primitive, and while the gnucash translation files are included, you may encounter messages from other libraries which aren't translated.
  • There is no theme engine in the bundle, so customizations are not supported.
  • Gtk-OSX does not yet support Universal Access.
  • Note that Gnucash demands a few things that Finance::Quote doesn't in order to get quotes. Run the perl program to diagnose any quote problems.

    Helping Out

    If you can work on one of these items, please pitch in! Some are Gnucash issues, some are issues with the Quartz implementation of Gtk, and some are integration issues. Join the gtk-osx-devs mailing list to coordinate your work with others.