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Building Blender for OSX

Building Blender for OSX needs a bit of preparation. However the steps are not very complicated and if you follow the instructions carefully you should be able to build Blender.

Build steps in a nutshell

  • Install Xcode Development Tools
  • Install CMake
  • Download sources from Git
  • Download external libraries from Subversion
  • Optional: Install CUDA Toolkit 8
  • Run CMake to create makefiles and XCode project
  • Use make or XCode to build Blender.

Install Xcode Development Tools

Download the newest Xcode package from the Mac App Store for your system (it's free).

Install CMake

CMake is a tool for generating build environments and it supports make and Xcode (among others). Download CMake here.

Download sources from Git

Now you are ready to get the latest Blender source code from's Git repository. Copy and paste the following instructions into a terminal window. These will create a blender-build folder off your home directory and download the latest source code.

mkdir ~/blender-build
cd ~/blender-build
git clone
cd blender
git submodule update --init --recursive
git submodule foreach git checkout master
git submodule foreach git pull --rebase origin master

For additional information on using Git with Blender's sources, see: Tools/Git

Download external libraries from Subversion

The external libraries needed for building blender have been precompiled for Intel 32 bit and 64 bit and OS X 10.5+, and can be download with these commands:

cd ~/blender-build
mkdir lib
cd lib
svn checkout

Updating sources and external libraries

If you later want to update your git and svn checkout to the latest version:

cd ~/blender-build/blender
git pull --rebase
git submodule foreach git pull --rebase origin master
cd ~/blender-build/lib/darwin-9.x.universal
svn update

Run CMake To Create makefiles and XCode Project

CMake itself does not build blender, but it generates the build environment for Blender. You can either generate Unix Makefiles that can be used from the terminal (easy), or generate XCode Project Files if you like to work in XCode.

Quick Build with a Single Command

The easiest and fastest solution is to build Blender with the default settings, and simply run this in the Terminal:

cd ~/blender-build/blender

After the build finished, you will find ready to run in ~/blender-build/build_darwin/bin.

Read on if you want to do more advanced configuration.

Configure a New Build with CMake GUI

Note: For CMake to determine the proper location of Xcode build, it's important that your active version of Xcode be located at /Applications/

CMake comes with a command line interface as well as a the graphical user interface. Skip to the next section if you want to use Terminal only. You find the CMake App in your Application folder. Double click on it to start it. The CMake Window shows up:


As you can see all you have to enter is the location of the sources in ~blender-build/blender and a destination directory which i have chosen to be ~blender-build/cmake (any location outside of the source directory is allowed).

Now Press the "Configure" Button. You get another Popup:


Here you can select which Generator you want to use (Unix Makefiles or CMake in our case). I have selected Xcode here. Note that you also can select which compiler you want to use. If you are unsure about what that means, don't worry and use the default native compilers.

Now press the "Done" Button. You get back to the previous screen but now you will see a big red list of options. You can scroll through the option list and set parameters to your needs. Please ensure that the following settings are correct for your build:

parameter value
CMAKE_BUILD_TYPE "Release" (for release build with optimizations) or "Debug" (to get debug info for gdb)
CMAKE_OSX_ARCHITECTURES ppc, i386, x86_64 (x86_64 for all recent OS X versions)

Note: x86_64 (64 bits) is default, only newer hardware support it. If your build stops with error "Bad CPU type in executable" you have to switch cpu type to i386 or ppc (32 bits).

CMAKE_OSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET You can restrict the OSX version you want to build for (10.5, 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9), but a nice default is 10.6.
CMAKE_OSX_SYSROOT It is recommended to always use the highest sdk available.
CMAKE_CXX_FLAGS_DEBUG, CMAKE_C_FLAGS_DEBUG (advanced mode) set to "-g3 -O0 -fno-inline" for best gdb code stepping

Note: 'gcc' is a symbolic link to the default compiler used by the desired Xcode version. Since XCode5 this means CLANG, formerly it was llvm-gcc

Click Configure again and the red highlighting should disappear. Then click Generate and your build environment will be created into the build folder.

The next steps depend on the type of build files you generated.

Configuring a New Build From With CMake From the Command Line

cd to the directory where the blender/ and lib/ directories are. Then do the following:

mkdir build_darwin
cd build_darwin
cmake ../blender/

This will create all Makefiles in the cmake directory, as an "out of source build"

Then run

ccmake .

Which starts the terminal 'curses' app to configure build settings. Check the section above for important settings. End with the commands "c" (configure) and "g" (generate). Note that you have to carefully check cpu type and OSX version.

Building Blender

At this point you should have your build environment set up via CMake. Now you can build the actual executable in two different way: From the Command Line with Make, or With XCode.

Build with Unix Makefiles

Open up a Terminal and navigate to the build directory you created (e.g. build_darwin). Then just run:

make install
  1. REDIRECT Dev/Doc/Building Blender/makeJobs

Once this completes you should end up with a in the directory blender-build/build_darwin/bin.

Building with XCode

Assuming you followed the steps above and configured CMake to build into its own folder inside a folder named "blender-build", there will be an XCode project located in "cmake/Blender.xcodeproj".

Double click it to open XCode.

1. Change the Active Scheme popup in the upper left corner of the XCode 5 project window from ALL_BUILD to Install

2. Select menu Product->Scheme->Edit Scheme

Edit Scheme is located all the way at the bottom of the list of targets. Or just Press Command-<.
3. Select the Run item from the left view and you will see something like this:
4. Select the Blender App from the Executable popup menu.
You may leave the Debugger options at the defaults.

5. Click OK to save changes.

Now clicking the Run triangle next to the Active Scheme popup should now build the application and launch Blender under the debugger.