Difference between revisions of "Octave for macOS"

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(→‎Homebrew: Overhaul section.)
(→‎Homebrew: Shorten section introduction.)
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→ ''Latest Octave: [https://formulae.brew.sh/formula/octave Version 5.2.0]''
→ ''Latest Octave: [https://formulae.brew.sh/formula/octave Version 5.2.0]''
[https://brew.sh/ Homebrew] is a package management system that simplifies the installation of software on macOS. It is a free/open source software project to simplify installation of other free/open source software. It is similar in aim and function to MacPorts and Fink. It was written by Max Howell and has gained popularity in the Ruby on Rails community and earned praise for its extensibility.
[https://brew.sh/ Homebrew] was written 2009 by Max Howell and has gained popularity in the Ruby on Rails community and earned praise for its extensibility.
'''Install GNU Octave using Homebrew:'''
'''Install GNU Octave using Homebrew:'''

Revision as of 05:30, 16 May 2020

GNU Octave is primarily developed on GNU/Linux and other POSIX conformant systems. On macOS systems GNU Octave can be installed

  • from a single dmg-file, a macOS App Bundle called "Octave.app" in recent versions, or
  • by using a macOS package manager.
Info icon.svg
GNU Octave 5.2.0 is the current stable release.

macOS App Bundles

The Octave.app project (GitHub page) provides an unofficial ready-to-use macOS App Bundle installer based on Homebrew (see blow).

An older installer is hosted on SourceForge.

Package Managers

A package manager is a software tool to automate the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing software packages for a computer's operating system in a consistent manner. It typically maintains a database of software dependencies and version information to prevent software mismatches and missing prerequisites.

Packages are distributions of software, applications and data. Packages also contain metadata, such as the software's name, description of its purpose, version number, vendor, checksums, and a list of dependencies necessary for the software to run properly. Upon installation, metadata is stored in a local package database.

All package managers below are given in alphabetical order. The Octave developers do not recommend a certain package manager.


Latest Octave: Version 5.2.0

Homebrew was written 2009 by Max Howell and has gained popularity in the Ruby on Rails community and earned praise for its extensibility.

Install GNU Octave using Homebrew:

  1. Install Xcode via the Mac App Store.
  2. Follow Homebrew's installation instructions.
  3. Ensure brew itself has the latest definitions
    brew update
  4. Install Octave [1]
    brew install octave

Further reading

The default charting package in Octave is straight qt. However, on the Mac gnuplot often works better. To switch to gnuplot, place the following text in your ~/.octaverc file:


Note: If brew complains about:

Linking /usr/local/Cellar/ghostscript/9.14...
Error: Could not symlink share/ghostscript/Resource
/usr/local/share/ghostscript is not writable.

This is telling you the user permissions for ghostscript are not setup in a way that your user profile can use. You need to change those permissions to your user profile. The following command will repair the issue:

sudo chown -R `whoami` /usr/local/share/ghostscript
brew link --overwrite ghostscript

Then run the brew install octave command again.

Note: If brew complains about not having a formula for octave, the following command should fix it:

brew tap --repair

The command below upgrades Octave and its dependencies to the latest Homebrew-supported versions:

brew update && brew upgrade octave

Octave has many dependencies which will be downloaded and installed prior to Octave. The entire installation process can take a few hours, but precompiled binary packages called 'bottles' are available with default options for Octave and many of its dependencies.

Octave has a built-in GUI (developed using Qt lib) installed by default so that gnuplot and other tools can use it directly. This GUI is always installed when installing Octave using Homebrew.

In case of trouble, see the Homebrew Troubleshooting Guide, which assists in diagnosing problems and craft useful bug reports. Bugs may be reported at Homebrew-core's issue tracker.


Latest Octave: Version 5.2.0

MacPorts, formerly called DarwinPorts, was started in 2002 as part of the OpenDarwin project, with the involvement of a number of Apple Inc. employees including Landon Fuller, Kevin Van Vechten, and Jordan Hubbard.

Install GNU Octave using MacPorts:

  • Install Xcode via the Mac App Store.
    • Install the Command Line Tools by opening a terminal and type sudo xcode-select --install.
  • Follow the instruction given at the MacPorts website.
  • Update your installation by running sudo port selfupdate and sudo port upgrade outdated in the terminal.
  • Run sudo port install octave.


Latest Octave: Version 5.2.0

Spack is a package management tool that supports the installation of multiple versions of software on macOS and other operating systems. It was created 2013 by Todd Gamblin and is currently being updated and developed by a large list of contributors (mainly via GitHub).

Install GNU Octave using Spack:

To install Octave, first we ensure that Spack itself has the latest definitions, by going to the local Spack repository (develop branch) folder and running the command:

git pull

Then, we install the latest version of Octave:

spack install octave

To use Octave we need to first load the package:

spack load octave

Octave has many dependencies which will be downloaded and installed prior to Octave. The entire installation process can take up to a few hours.

In case of trouble, please visit the Spack repo issues list, and browse through Octave related issues by writing in the filters box:

is:issue octave

Create a launcher app with AppleScript

  • Open the "AppleScript Editor" application
  • write the following text in the editor window:
tell application "Terminal"
 do script "/path/to/octave; exit"
end tell

or if Octave is in your default path:

tell application "Terminal"
 do script "`which octave`; exit"
end tell

or if you wish to start the GUI by default, without a terminal:

do shell script "/path/to/octave --force-gui"

(e.g. Homebrew installs Octave to '/usr/local/bin/octave' by default)

  • Select "Save as ..." from the "File" menu
  • In the menu that appears, select "Application" from the "File format" menu, then navigate to the "Applications" folder and save your script there as "Octave.app"

To change the application icon

  • Open this link in a web browser, right-click and select "copy image".
  • Select "Octave.app" in the Finder, then press command-i to bring up the file info dialog.
  • In the file info dialog, select the icon (in the top left) and press command-v to paste the Octave icon over it.

See also


  1. Homebrew has updated some of its scripts. To install Octave as of May 14, 2020, provide the migrated full path by running brew install homebrew/core/octave instead. [Citation needed!]