Building darktable for Apple M1 (ARM64 processor)

Tags: darktable photography

I'm trying to build the nightly version of darktable on my Macbook Air M1.
Mac support is lacking and I'd like to test more an give my contribution as a designer and photographer.

There are couple of ways to build darktable for Mac OSX but the easiest one I've found is using Homebrew.

Build instructions are very clear, however I've encountered some issues as my homebrew was already installed on my system.

Clone darktable repository from git

I have a Developer folder in my system where I tinker with code, but you can use whatever you prefer:


From this folder, clone darktable git repository:

cd ~/Developer
git clone
cd darktable
git submodule init
git config submodule.src/tests/integration.update none
git submodule update

Now the source code has been download, let's proceed with the next steps.

Install homebrew

Instructions and prerequisites can be found on official website, ideally use default installation path (/opt/homebrew for arm64, /usr/local for i386).

If homebrew is already installed the first thing to do before building darktable is to update, upgrade and check if there are any issues in the configuration:

brew update
brew upgrade
brew doctor

A couple of fixes were needed in my system that caused errors and headaches during the first compilation attempts.

It's good to check homebrew status BEFORE building darktable.

Install homebrew dependencies

Next step according to the building instructions is to install homebrew dependencies, using the sript inside packagin/macosx:


Important: For the app bundle it is required that GraphicsMagick is linked statically, which is not the default by homebrew. To get GraphicsMagick statically linked, open a terminal and perform the following steps:

brew edit graphicsmagick

This opens the graphicsmagick homebrew formula in the editor. Locate and delete the following line:


Reinstall graphicsmagick:

brew reinstall --build-from-source graphicsmagick

Now you have a statically linked GraphicsMagick library.

After several attempts I found out that there are some inaccuracies in the installation script.

The first one is related to the tap jsonschema : at the time I compiled darktable this package is deprecated, and after running brew doctor it suggested me to remove it because it is deprecated.

==> jsonschema: stable 4.17.3 (bottled), HEAD
Implementation of JSON Schema for Python
Deprecated because it cli is deprecated, and will be removed!

The second inaccuracy is that at the end of the build, another library was missing: libtiff.
This library is missing in the script.

I recommend installing it manually after running the script first to avoid errors:

brew install libtiff

At this point all the dependencies should be there.

Build and install darktable

Inside packaging/macosx/ there 2 scripts that we can use to build darktable.

Option A
Build using the default, which should work for most use cases


Option B
Build using custom cmake options, edit according to your specific needs/environment


I used option A and it was all very quick and straightforward.

Create application bundle from build files

This step is to create the application bundle.

If you are an Apple developer and have an account to sign the application, you can optionally provide your developer certificate email/id by defining CODECERT:

export CODECERT="[email protected]" # optional, not required

I don't have a developer account so I skip this step and run directly the following:


At this point, I was able to run darktable from the folder:

open build/macosx/package/

Mac OSX Finder

Generate DMG image from application bundle

This step is needed to build the dmg if you want to share the application easily:


The script will generate a DMG file with this format:

darktable-<current version>+<latest commit>-{arm64|i386}.dmg

darktable screenshot

Updating from master

From the darktable folder:

git pull origin master

this command will update the repository with the latest darktable version. Then you have to run the same scripts above to build the app and the dmg:

yes | packaging/macosx/ 
#to avoid manually confirming each change