Building PySide on a Mac OS X System

Mac OS X is a Unix flavor, partially based upon BSD Unix.

The supported Mac OS X versions created by Apple are

  • OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • OS X 10.7 Lion
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite

Mac OS X is a proprietary UNIX flavor of BSD Unix and only partially similar to Linux. Therefore, the usual packages from Linux distributions cannot be used without modifications.

There are several known package managers which provide support for Mac OS X, namely

The main purpose of all of these projects is to provide the missing Linux packages for Mac OS X.

Throughout this tutorial, we are only using Homebrew, because it appears to be the most light-weight package manager available. All installations are made to /usr/local/(bin|lib|include|shared) by simple symlinks.

But it should be easy to translate these instructions for the other, heavier package managers.

Installing prerequisites

  1. Install Package Manager:

    $ ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

    Follow the on-screen instructions to make adjustions, especially run

    $ brew doctor

    Also see the homebrew homepage for further information

  2. Install Xcode (optional):

    Follow the on-screen instructions. If you selected any extensions to be installed, wait for their completion before you proceed.


    If you are using Mavericks, you can also use the Xcode Command Line Tools without actually installing Xcode (not tested, see this article: How to Install Command Line Tools in OS X Mavericks (Without Xcode)).

  3. Install the Xcode command Line Tools:

    After Xcode installation has finished, you can open a command shell and issue

    $ xcode-select --install

    This will open a dialog window with further instructions. After the command line tools are installed, you will not need to use Xcode again in order to set up PySide.

  4. Install build dependencies:

    $ brew install python cmake qt

    Remark: This installs Homebrew Python, which is fine for you as a single user. If you are considering to build installers for external users, see the section About PySide Distributions.

  5. Install latest pip distribution into the Python you installed in the first step: download and run it using the python interpreter of your Python 2.7 installation using a command prompt:

    $ wget
    $ sudo python2.7


    There are situations with older Python versions, where the above procedure does not work. You can then use this last-resort work-around (tested):

    $ wget
    $ sudo python2.7
    $ sudo easy_install pip
    $ sudo pip install setuptools -U
    $ sudo pip install wheel -U
  6. Install latest wheel distribution:

    $ sudo pip2.7 install wheel

About PySide Distribution

If you want to build PySide for your own use, the above instructions are ok.

But when you are considering to build PySide for other versions or other users, you need to be aware of the following caveat:

  • Mac OS X has the concept of a MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET
  • The current deployment targets which work with PySide are 10.6 to 10.9 .
  • All binary installers from are built with the setting
$ export MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET=10.6  # Snow Leopard
  • The default setting for the deployment target of an extension (like PySide) is always inherited from the Python used for building. You can set the deployment target higher than that, but not below the OS X version that was set during building your Python installation.
  • Current distributions like Homebrew set the deployment target to the same value as the OS version they are built with. (I.E. 10.9 for Mavericks).
  • Example: A PySide, built on Mavericks, will therefore not run on a Python that was built for Mountain Lion.


Building PySide distribution

  1. Download PySide source distribution:

    $ wget
  2. Extract the source distribution:

    $ tar -xvzf PySide-1.2.4.tar.gz
  3. Switch to the distribution directory:

    $ cd PySide-1.2.4
  4. Build the wheel binary distribution:

    $ python2.7 bdist_wheel

Building PySide distribution from a Git repository

  1. Clone PySide setup scripts from git repository:

    $ git clone pyside-setup
  2. Switch to the pyside-setup directory:

    $ cd pyside-setup
  3. Build PySide distribution:

    $ python2.7 bdist_wheel --version=1.2.4
  4. To build the development version of PySide distribution, ignore the –version parameter:

    $ python2.7 bdist_wheel

Installing PySide distribution

  1. After the successful build, install the distribution with pip:

    $ sudo pip2.7 install dist/PySide-1.2.4-cp27-none-linux-x86_64.whl

Installing PySide distribution into virtual Python environment

  1. Install latest virtualenv distribution:

    $ sudo pip2.7 virtualenv
  2. Use virtualenv to make a workspace:

    $ virtualenv-2.7 env
  3. Activate the virtual Python in the env directory:

    $ source env/bin/activate
  4. Install the distribution with pip:

    (env) $ pip install ../dist/PySide-1.2.4-cp27-none-linux-x86_64.whl
  5. Leave the virtual environment (optional):

    (env) $ deactivate