One of the best user friendly options out there for Mac users who want to run GIS software natively is QGIS (aka Quantum GIS). QGIS is an open source GIS software package that can be freely downloaded. Anita Graser provides an overview to the QGIS ecosystem which includes a desktop GIS component, cloud hosting, and mobile application. QGIS provides compatibility for a variety of GIS vector and raster file types (such as shape files, KMLs, and GeoTIFFs) so it works well for those that need to migrate back and forth between other GIS and mapping platforms. More information about QGIS is available in the article Getting Started with QGIS.
|• Getting Started with QGIS
• Introducing the Quantum GIS Ecosystem
• Five Reasons to Start Using QGIS
Installing QGIS on a Mac
The download page provides access to the required installers and the QGIS download link. Installation is pretty straightforward but it’s important to install the required frameworks first for a more stable installation. Unlike the Windows install version, the Mac version requires the installation of two frameworks before you install the QGIS package. While QGIS can install without first installing the frameworks, download the GDAL and GSL frameworks and install them to ensure a more robust installation of QGIS.
To install the frameworks, first download the .DMG file for GDAL. Find the downloaded .DMG file and double click it to start the installation. Follow the steps on the installer wizard that appears. Enter your admin password for the computer when prompted. Once the framework has been installed, eject the disk image by dragging it into the trash. Repeat the process for the GSL framework.
Once both those frameworks have been installed for your version of Mac OSX, then run the QGIS installer. To install both dependency frameworks and QGIS, you will need to know the admin password for the Mac computer you are installing the software onto (a standard requirement for installing any software onto a Mac).
Pick the version of QGIS you would like to run. The latest stable build is 1.7.4 aka Wroclaw. There is also the option of installing 1.9.90-alpha which is the developer version. The developer version (also referred to as QGIS trunk contains access to more extensibility from new features such as the heat map plugin but is also more prone to bugs. As the download page warns: “This is a build of the bleeding edge of Qgis, use at your own risk.”
QGIS Mac Tips
Associating QGIS File Types
QGIS projects are saved with the .qgs extension. Older versions of QGIS may have the .qgis extension. To associate the older extension type so that double clicking the file automatically opens up QGIS do the following: highlight the file and then click on it to open up the options. Then select Open With -> Other… Browse through the applications to find the QGIS icon. Select the icon, check the box at the bottom that says “Always open with” and then click the open button. All future instances of opening a file with the .qgis extension should now automatically start up QGIS.
Clearing Out Imported QGIS Styles
If you have hundreds of imported QGIS styles and want to clear out the imported styles without having to delete them one by one from within QGIS, you can clear out the settings from the hidden folder for QGIS found in the home direction. Access this folder in Finder by clicking the Go menu and choosing Go to Folder. Then type in ~/.qgis and click Go (backing up any files within this folder before deleting or changing them is strongly recommended).
Related QGIS and Open Source GIS Articles
- Getting Started With QGIS: Open Source GIS
- Introducing the Quantum GIS ecosystem
- Open Source GIS and Freeware GIS Applications
- How to Go from GIS Novice to Pro without Spending a Dime
- GIS on the Mac