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The easiest way to run PostgreSQL on your Mac
You can download recent versions of Postgres.app from the Postgres.app website.
Older versions and pre-releases are available in the releases section on GitHub.
Documentation is available at http://postgresapp.com/documentation, as well as from the "Open Documentation" menu item in Postgres.app.
Postgres.app consists of separate parts:
The PostgreSQL binaries, including extensions and a bunch of command line tools. You can find the binaries in /Applications/Postgres.app/Contents/Versions
The Postgres.app user interface, written in Swift. This is the native Mac app that you see when you double click Postgres.app in the Finder.
For compatibility reasons we build the different parts on different versions of macOS.
the binaries for PostgreSQL 9.4 - 10 were / are built on macOS 10.10 with Xcode 7.2.1
the binaries for PostgreSQL 11 - 12 are built on macOS 10.12 with Xcode 8.3.3
the binaries for PostgreSQL 13 are built on macOS 10.15 with Xcode 11.7
the binaries for PostgreSQL 14 are built on macOS 11 with Command Line Tools for Xcode 12.5
the binaries for PostgreSQL 15 are built on macOS 12 with Command Line Tools for Xcode 14
the GUI is built on macOS 12 with Xcode 14.1
It is of course possible to use other versions of macOS / Xcode (see details below), but those are the environments we use.
If you want to work on the user interface only, you don't have to re-compile the binaries yourself. By default, the buildscript for Postgres.app just copies the binaries from /Applications/Postgres.app/Contents/Versions
So just make sure you have a copy of Postgres.app in your applications folder. Open the XCode file and start hacking!
Tools required for building the GUI:
If you want to build your own versions of all the PostgreSQL binaries, you have slightly more work to do.
The directories src-xx each contain a makefile that downloads and builds all the binaries.
If you have all the prerequisites installed (see below), you can just type
The makefile will download and build many gigabytes of sources. The default target (
all) builds postgresql, postgis, wal2json, pldebugger and plv8 (till PostgreSQL 13).
PostGIS and especially plv8 with all their dependencies take a long time to build, so if you don't need them, type
make postgresql instead.
The makefile will install all products in
/Applications/Postgres.app/Contents/Versions/xx (xx is the major version of PostgreSQL).
So for best results, make sure that directory is empty before starting the build.
If you want to change the version number of any of the dependencies, edit the makefile (all version numbers are specified at the top).
You can use the
-j option (eg.
make -j 3 postgresql) for parallel builds.
My recommendation is to use one more job than the number of logical processors you have.
Since my macOS 10.12 VM is limited to 2 virtual CPUs, I use
However, parallel builds make debugging problems a lot harder, so don't use them when something doesn't work.
Always check the exit code of make to see if any errors occurred, eg.
make -j 3 || echo "Build failed with exit code $?"
At the very least, you need the following:
For building PostGIS, you also need
By default, PostgreSQL is built with documentation. To build the PostgreSQL 13 docs, you need these packages (see https://www.postgresql.org/docs/current/docguide-toolsets.html for details):
The quickest way to install all the dependencies is with MacPorts. Install MacPorts, then type:
sudo port -N install autoconf automake pkgconfig libtool docbook-xml-4.5 docbook-xsl-nons fop
-N flag tells Macports to install required dependencies without asking)
Older versions required a different set of packages for building the docs, please see the specific versions of the documentation page https://www.postgresql.org/docs/current/docguide-toolsets.html for details.
It is also possible to install those using homebrew, at least for PostgreSQL 14 and later:
brew install automake cmake docbook-xsl libtool pkg-config
Postgres.app bundles the PostgreSQL binaries inside the application package. When you first start Postgres.app, here's what it does:
initdb -D DATA_DIRECTORY -U postgres --encoding=UTF-8 --locale=en_US.UTF-8. Starting with PostgreSQL 15 additionally:
--locale-provider=icu --icu-locale=en-US --data-checksums
pg_ctl start -D DATA_DIRECTORY --wait --log=DATA_DIRECTORY/postgres-server.log --options="-p PORT"
createuser -U postgres -p PORT --superuser USERNAME
On subsequent app launches, Postgres.app only starts the server.
Note that Postgres.app runs the server as your user, unlike other installations which might create a separate system user named
When you stop a server the following command is performed. The same happens for all running servers if quit Postgres.app using the menubar icon:
pg_ctl stop --mode=fast --wait -D DATA_DIRECTORY
Postgres.app also includes useful command line utilities (note: this list may be outdated):
See the documentation for more info.
First, you'll need to adjust the configuration file (
postgresql.conf) to preload the debugger extension. Add the following line:
shared_preload_libraries = 'plugin_debugger'
After you've saved this file, restart the server. You'll need to load the debugger extension into the database you wish to debug using:
CREATE EXTENSION pldbgapi;
Debugging requires that you are a superuser. Please refer to the documentation for further information. This requires that you use a supported client, such as PgAdmin 4. The official documentation for the module can be accessed here.
If you find a bug, please open an issue.
Postgres.app is maintained by Jakob Egger and Tobias Bussmann.
Postgres.app is released under the PostgreSQL License. See LICENSE for additional information.