How to install Inkscape on macOS

Inkscape is a super powerful vector design tool. Personally, I’ve been using it since 2011. No matter how many times I have re-installed operating systems on my computer, Inkscape is always a must. It can be installed very easy on Windows and Linux, however, it’s a bit tricky on macOS because the software is rendered using X11 window rendering system, which requires a port from Linux to macOS. This tutorial will walk you through how to install the application and make it look better for your eyes.

1. Install MacPorts:

The first thing to do before installing Inkscape and X11 on macOS is have MacPorts installed, which will compile these two. Head over to, and grab the correct package for your macOS version (Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, El Capital or Yosemite) and install the PKG with macOS’ Installer. The installation may take some time to complete so you need to keep your patience.

2. Install Inkscape and X11:

Now, we can install both Inkscape and X11 via MacPorts. To do that, simply open Terminal and paste this command then hit Return:

Once again, the process will take much time to finish. It took me about 20 minutes, so you just leave it there and have a cup of tea or whatever… Then log out and log in back to your user account so the system will enable X11.

3. Make Inkscape look better:

After you launch Inkscape from Terminal with the “inkscape” command, you’ll see it looks like a software in 1990-era, kinda like a Windows 95 app. Like this:

That’s why we’ll need to improve its look since it’s already 2019 with 5 more months to 2020! Fortunately, the trick won’t be much difficult at all. You’re gonna install gtk-chtheme first, via MacPorts:

Then, in your $HOME folder, let’s create a folder named “.themes” with the dot. The next step is visit, get any themes you like and extract the theme folders into the “.themes” we have just created. Then launch gtk-chtheme via command line and apply a theme. This is my current Inkscape, which looks way far better and modern. By the way, if you’re on macOS Mojave with Dark mode, then you’ll be a bit disappointed because X11 does not render the dark title bar, so I recommend a light GTK2 theme.

All right, we’re good to go with one small problem: A bit lag. Well, this always happens for a software that does not natively run on an unofficially supported platform. But at least, it works well enough for me. Enjoy!

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