Install PostgreSQL on a Mac
If you’re planning to run PostgreSQL on a Mac, it’s important to know how to install it properly. There are three common ways to install Postgres on a Mac: using Homebrew’s
brew install command, downloading the DMG interactive installer for Postgres.app or using MacPorts. In this article, we’ll provide step-by-step instruction for all three of these methods, so you can choose the installation process that works best for you.
Before attempting the instructions provided in this tutorial, make sure your Mac is running a supported version of MacOS X with at least 256MB of free disk space.
Install PostgreSQL on a Mac
As we mentioned earlier, there are three common ways to install PostgreSQL on macOS. You can use a downloadable DMG installer from Postgres.app, a Homebrew repository for Postgres or a MacPorts installation that uses the
port command line interface.
It’s also possible to build a binary of PostgreSQL from source using a tarball archive or to run Postgres in a Docker container; however, we won’t be providing instructions for these alternatives in this article.
Install Postgres using the Postgres.app
The easiest way to install Postgres on a Mac is to visit the Postgres.app downloads page and get the latest stable version of PostgreSQL as a DMG interactive installer.
Once the download is complete, navigate to your Downloads directory in a Finder window and then double-click on the DMG file to mount the installer. After mounting it, you should see a window pop up that will allow you to drag and drop the Postgres.app to your Applications folder.
Once you complete the installation steps, you should be able to run PostgreSQL by double-clicking the app’s icon in the Applications folder. You can also choose to have Postgres.app run by default– just add the application to your Login Items list in System Preferences.
Use the following
export command in a macOS Terminal window to add the Postgres.app path to your current
PATH environment variable:
Install PostgreSQL using Homebrew
If you’d prefer to use Homebrew to install Postgres, you can do so using the
brew install command. You’ll need to install the latest version of Homebrew using Ruby if you haven’t already. To do this, use the following command:
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
If you’re running the latest Catalina version of macOS, the output of this command should look like the following:
==> This script will install:
It may take a few minutes to install Homebrew depending on your internet connection. When the installation is complete, the next step is to “doctor” the Homebrew installation and update its repositories with this compound command:
brew doctor && brew update
NOTE: The latest versions of Homebrew will update the repository before installing packages.
Mac install of Postgres using ‘brew’
Now that we’ve installed the latest version of Homebrew, we can use the
brew install command to install PostgreSQL:
brew install postgresql
NOTE: In Homebrew, the
postgres “keg” is simply an alias for
brew install postgres will work the same way.
Once the installation is finished, you can use the
postgres -V or
psql -V commands to return the version number and verify that the installation was successful. You can also use the
brew list command to view a list of all locally installed packages using Homebrew.
psql command not found
If you get an error stating
psql: command not found, you may have to export the path for the Homebrew installation using the following command:
As an alternative, you can also add the following
PATH line to your
After editing any of these files, be sure to save the changes. You can have the new settings take effect by running the
source command followed by the file name:
Try executing the
psql command again after making these changes to verify that the
PATH for PostgreSQL and psql has been set.
Start the Postgres server
With Homebrew, you can use the
brew services start command to have Postgres start in the background:
brew services start postgresql
If you’d prefer to run Postgres as a temporary background service, use the following
pg_ctl command instead:
pg_ctl -D /usr/local/var/postgres start
You can use Homebrew’s
enable command to have PostgreSQL start automatically whenever you restart your Mac:
brew services enable postgresql
Reinstall PostgreSQL using Homebrew
If you already have PostgreSQL on your Mac and you’d like to reinstall the latest version of it, you can also use Homebrew’s
brew reinstall postgresql
Install Postgres using MacPorts
The last method we’ll discuss in this article involves using the MacPorts package manager for macOS. To install Postgres on a Mac this way, visit the release page for MacPorts and download a
.pkg installer that matches your version of macOS. Once the download is complete, you can navigate to your Downloads directory in a Finder window and double-click the package installer. Follow the steps for the interactive installer, and open a terminal window when you’re done.
NOTE: MacPorts also requires the Xcode library.
In order to install a package, you’ll need to export a path for Macport’s
port command. Execute the following
export command in a terminal window:
You can also open your
.zprofile file and append the following:
After saving your changes to the file, go back to your terminal and input
source ~/.bash_profile or
source ~/.zprofile to load the changes.
Use Macport’s ‘port’ command to install Postgres
At this point, we’re ready to use the
port command to install Postgres. Use the following
port info command to look for the PostgreSQL package:
port info postgresql_select
You should receive a response that looks like the following:
postgresql_select @0.4 (databases)
Now, use the
port install command with
sudo to install the PostgreSQL packages with elevated privilages:
sudo port install postgresql11 postgresql11-server
NOTE: You’ll need to press return or type
y to verify that you’d like to install the package and its dependencies.
Finally, use the
select command shown below to verify that PostgreSQL installed correctly:
port select --list postgresql
If you’re in the MacPort interface, you can just type
\q to quit.
Uninstall Postgres on a Mac
If you need to uninstall a Homebrew installation of PostgreSQL, use the following command to force the uninstall, even if it depends on other packages:
brew uninstall --ignore-dependencies postgresql
If you’d like to see any existing PostgreSQL dependencies, use the command shown below:
brew dep postgresql
Uninstall Postgres.app on a Mac
You can uninstall the Postgres.app installation of PostgreSQL the same way you would for any package or applicaton on a Mac– just drag and drop the application from the Applications folder to the Trash directory. Make sure to first shut down the Postgres application and server before attempting this.
Uninstall the MacPorts installation of Postgres
If you installed Postgres using MacPorts, you’ll need to use the following command to remove the package:
sudo port uninstall postgres
If you need to install PostgreSQL on a Mac, it’s good to know the different methods that are available. In this article, we provided instructions on three common installation methods: using the Homebrew package manager, using the interactive installer and using MacPorts. With this tutorial to guide you, you’ll be able to select any of these methods for your own PostgreSQL installation.
Pilot the ObjectRocket Platform Free!
Try Fully-Managed CockroachDB, Elasticsearch, MongoDB, PostgreSQL (Beta) or Redis.Get Started