Compile and Install Ghostscript on MacOS/X as a Framework

This tutorial explains how to compile and install Ghostscript on MacOS/X as a Framework. It assumes that you have the Developer Tools installed (these should be available on your OS/X DVD) and that you are familiar with the Terminal.

Required Downloads

Start by downloading Ghostscript from the GhostScript website in .tar.gz format and save it to your home directory. I have downloaded "ghostscript-8.63.tar.gz", but newer versions should also work. Next, download Ghostscript's fonts "ghostscript-fonts-std-x.y.tar.gz" from here and also save them to your home directory. Now you should have something like this:

[~]$ ls -alh $HOME/ghostscript*
-rw-r--r--@ 1 john  staff    17M Aug  1 20:17 ghostscript-8.63.tar.gz
-rw-------@ 1 john  staff   3.6M Jul 24  2003 ghostscript-fonts-std-8.11.tar.gz

Note that "[~]$" is my command prompt. The command prompt on your system might appear different. Only type the part that comes after the prompt. In the following, I assume basic familiarity with Bash and simple Unix commands.

Compiling Ghostscript as a Framework

Decompress "ghostscript-8.63.tar.gz" as follows:

[~]$ cd $HOME
[~]$ tar -xvzf ghostscript-8.63.tar.gz
*** SNIP ***

Now enter the ghostscript-x.y directory and copy the file "src/macosx.mak" to "Makefile". Next, we will edit the resulting "Makefile":

[~]$ cd ghostscript-8.63
[~]$ cp src/macosx.mak Makefile

Now open "Makefile" using your favorite text editor and make the following two changes:

  • Search for the line:
    DEVICE_DEVS=$(DD) $(DD) $(DD)
    and add "$(DD)" at the front. This is very important as some applications (such as GLE) that will link to the framework require this device. The resulting line is now:
    DEVICE_DEVS=$(DD) $(DD) $(DD) $(DD)
  • Look for the line that contains "GS_LIB_DEFAULT". Add to this line:
    assuming that your user name is "john" and that you plan to install the framework in your home directory. The resulting line in my case is now:
    This second step is only required if you plan to install the framework in your home directory. If you plan to install system-wide in "/Library/Frameworks/", then this step is not required.

Now compile the framework with the command "make framework":

[~]$ make framework
make LDFLAGS=' -dynamic -dynamiclib -install_name /Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Ghostscript' GS_XE=./bin/../sobin/libgs.8.63.dylib STDIO_IMPLEMENTATION=c DISPLAY_DEV=./obj/../soobj/ BINDIR=./bin/../sobin GLGENDIR=./obj/../soobj GLOBJDIR=./obj/../soobj PSGENDIR=./obj/../soobj PSOBJDIR=./obj/../soobj CFLAGS=' -dynamic -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -Wmissing-declarations -Wmissing-prototypes -fno-builtin -fno-common -DHAVE_STDINT_H ' prefix=/Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework ./bin/../sobin/gsc 
cc -I./src -o ./obj/../soobj/genconf ./src/genconf.c
cc -I./src -o ./obj/../soobj/echogs ./src/echogs.c
*** SNIP ***
(cd ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Versions; ln -s 8.63 Current)
(cd ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework; \
	ln -s Versions/Current/Headers . ;\
	ln -s Versions/Current/Resources ;\
	ln -s Versions/Current/man . ;\
	ln -s Versions/Current/doc . ;\
	ln -s Versions/Current/Ghostscript . )
cp src/iapi.h src/ierrors.h src/gdevdsp.h ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Headers/
cp lib/Info-macos.plist ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Resources/
cp -r lib ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Resources/
cp ./bin/../sobin/libgs.8.63.dylib ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Versions/Current/Ghostscript
cp -r man ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Versions/Current
cp -r doc ./bin/../sobin/Ghostscript.framework/Versions/Current

This should have created "Ghostscript.framework" in the subdirectory "sobin".

Install the Framework

If you want to install the framework in your home directory, proceed as follows:

[~]$ mkdir -p $HOME/Library/Frameworks
[~]$ mv sobin/Ghostscript.framework $HOME/Library/Frameworks/

If you want to install system-wide, do the following instead:

[~]$ sudo mv sobin/Ghostscript.framework /Library/Frameworks/

Now, test the framework by issuing the command:

[~]$ ./sobin/gsc -h
GPL Ghostscript 8.63 (2008-08-01)
Copyright (C) 2008 Artifex Software, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Usage: gs [switches] [ ...]
Most frequently used switches: (you can use # in place of =)
 -dNOPAUSE           no pause after page   | -q       `quiet', fewer messages
 -g<width>x<height>  page size in pixels   | -r<res>  pixels/inch resolution
 -sDEVICE=<devname>  select device         | -dBATCH  exit after last file
 -sOutputFile=<file> select output file: - for stdout, |command for pipe,
                                         embed %d or %ld for page #
Input formats: PostScript PostScriptLevel1 PostScriptLevel2 PostScriptLevel3 PDF
Default output device: display
Available devices:
   bbox display epswrite jpeg jpegcmyk jpeggray nullpage pamcmyk32 pbm
   pbmraw pdfwrite pdfwrite pgm pgmraw pgnm pgnmraw pkm pkmraw pksm pksmraw
   png16 png16m png256 pngalpha pnggray pngmono pnm pnmraw ppm ppmraw
   ps2write pswrite pxlcolor pxlmono txtwrite
Search path:
   . :
   /Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Versions/8.63/Resources/lib :
   /Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Versions/8.63/Resources/Resource/Font :
   /Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Resources/fonts :
   /Library/Fonts : /System/Library/Fonts :
   /Users/john/Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Resources/lib :
For more information, see /Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Versions/8.63/Resources/doc/Use.htm.
Please report bugs to

Double check that the output lists "display" under "Available devices" and that "Search path" includes the paths you added to "Makefile" (if any). Now install the "gsc" program by copying it to a directory in the $PATH and optionally rename it to "gs" if you do not have a previous version of Ghostscript installed. To install it in your home directory, do:

[~]$ mkdir -p $HOME/bin
[~]$ cp sobin/gsc $HOME/bin/gs
[~]$ export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin

Or install it system-wide as follows:

[~]$ sudo cp sobin/gsc /usr/bin/gs

Install the Fonts

The last step is to install the fonts. First decompress the .tar.gz you downloaded before. This gives a directory called "fonts" in your home directory.

[~]$ cd $HOME
[~]$ tar -xvzf ghostscript-fonts-std-8.11.tar.gz

If you have installed Ghostscript in your home directory, install the fonts as follows:

[~]$ mv fonts $HOME/Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Resources/

If you have installed Ghostscript system-wide, install the fonts as follows:

[~]$ sudo mv fonts /Library/Frameworks/Ghostscript.framework/Resources/

This finishes the installation of the Ghostscript framework. If you are installing Ghostscript to be used with GLE, run "gle -finddeps" to make it locate the framework automatically.

Please feel free to contact the GLE mailing list if you have any feedback regarding this compilation guide.