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Mac OS X Build Instructions and Notes

This guide will show you how to build bitcoind(headless client) for OSX.


  • Tested on OS X 10.6 through 10.9 on 64-bit Intel processors only. Older OSX releases or 32-bit processors are no longer supported.

  • All of the commands should be executed in a Terminal application. The built-in one is located in /Applications/Utilities.


You need to install XCode with all the options checked so that the compiler and everything is available in /usr not just /Developer. XCode should be available on your OS X installation media, but if not, you can get the current version from If you install Xcode 4.3 or later, you'll need to install its command line tools. This can be done in Xcode > Preferences > Downloads > Components and generally must be re-done or updated every time Xcode is updated.

There's also an assumption that you already have git installed. If not, it's the path of least resistance to install Github for Mac (OS X 10.7+) or Git for OS X. It is also available via Homebrew or MacPorts.

You will also need to install Homebrew or MacPorts in order to install library dependencies. It's largely a religious decision which to choose, however, Homebrew is now used for building release versions.

The installation of the actual dependencies is covered in the Instructions sections below.

Instructions: MacPorts

Install dependencies

sudo port install boost db48@+no_java openssl miniupnpc autoconf pkgconfig automake libtool

Optional: install Qt4

sudo port install qt4-mac qrencode protobuf-cpp

Building bitcoind

  1. Clone the github tree to get the source code and go into the directory.

     git clone bitcoin
     cd bitcoin
  2. Build bitcoind (and Bitcoin-Qt, if configured):

  3. It is a good idea to build and run the unit tests, too:

    make check

Instructions: Homebrew

Install dependencies using Homebrew

    brew install autoconf automake libtool boost miniupnpc openssl pkg-config protobuf qt

Installing berkeley-db4 using Homebrew

The homebrew package for berkeley-db4 has been broken for some time. It will install without Java though.

Running this command takes you into brew's interactive mode, which allows you to configure, make, and install by hand:

$ brew install -–without-java 

These rest of these commands are run inside brew interactive mode:

/private/tmp/berkeley-db4-UGpd0O/db-4.8.30 $ cd ..
/private/tmp/berkeley-db4-UGpd0O $ db-4.8.30/dist/configure --prefix=/usr/local/Cellar/berkeley-db4/4.8.30 --mandir=/usr/local/Cellar/berkeley-db4/4.8.30/share/man --enable-cxx
/private/tmp/berkeley-db4-UGpd0O $ make
/private/tmp/berkeley-db4-UGpd0O $ make install
/private/tmp/berkeley-db4-UGpd0O $ exit

After exiting, you'll get a warning that the install is keg-only, which means it wasn't symlinked to /usr/local. You don't need it to link it to build bitcoin, but if you want to, here's how:

$ brew --force link berkeley-db4

Building bitcoind

  1. Clone the github tree to get the source code and go into the directory.

     git clone
     cd bitcoin
  2. Build bitcoind:

  3. It is also a good idea to build and run the unit tests:

    make check

Creating a release build

You can ignore this section if you are building bitcoind for your own use.

bitcoind/bitcoin-cli binaries are not included in the bundle.

If you are building bitcoind or Bitcoin-Qt for others, your build machine should be set up as follows for maximum compatibility:

All dependencies should be compiled with these flags:

-mmacosx-version-min=10.6 -arch x86_64 -isysroot $(xcode-select --print-path)/Platforms/MacOSX.platform/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk

For MacPorts, that means editing your macports.conf and setting macosx_deployment_target and build_arch:


... and then uninstalling and re-installing, or simply rebuilding, all ports.

As of December 2012, the boost port does not obey macosx_deployment_target. Download for a fix.

Once dependencies are compiled, see for how the bundle is packaged and signed to create the .dmg disk image that is distributed.


It's now available at ./bitcoind, provided that you are still in the src directory. We have to first create the RPC configuration file, though.

Run ./bitcoind to get the filename where it should be put, or just try these commands:

echo -e "rpcuser=bitcoinrpc\nrpcpassword=$(xxd -l 16 -p /dev/urandom)" > "/Users/${USER}/Library/Application Support/Bitcoin/bitcoin.conf"
chmod 600 "/Users/${USER}/Library/Application Support/Bitcoin/bitcoin.conf"

The next time you run it, it will start downloading the blockchain, but it won't output anything while it's doing this. This process may take several hours; you can monitor its process by looking at the debug.log file, like this:

tail -f $HOME/Library/Application\ Support/Bitcoin/debug.log

Other commands:

./bitcoind -daemon # to start the bitcoin daemon.
./bitcoin-cli --help  # for a list of command-line options.
./bitcoin-cli help    # When the daemon is running, to get a list of RPC commands