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Dataplot Installation Instructions for MacOS (no package manager)

Contact Information February 2024

Alan Heckert
Statistical Engineering Division
National Institute Of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8980
(301) 975-2899 or FTS 879-2899
Jim Filliben (deceased)

Step 1a: Install Needed Dependencies If you do not use a package manager such as MacPorts, Homebrew or fink, you need to install the following dependencies.

  • gfortran/gcc

    You need to install the gfortran/gcc compilers. A binary installation can be found at

    This page gives the installation instructions. Having gfortran/gcc is required when building from source.

  • X11

    Dataplot can use X11 for generating screen graphics when Dataplot is initiated from an xterm window. To install X11, see

    This page provides a ".dmg" file to download and install.

    If you choose to not install X11, omit the X11 feature on the FEATURES line in the Makefile (discussed below).

  • AquaTerm

    Dataplot uses the AquaTerm library to generate screen graphics for the command line version of Dataplot when it is run from a standard terminal window. If AquaTerm is not installed on your system, download and run AquaTerm-1.1.1.dmg.

    If you choose to not install AquaTerm, omit the AQUA feature on the FEATURES line in the Makefile (discussed below).

    Note: Currently (01/31/2024), AquaTerm only seems to be supported for the Intel chipset. So if you have the M1 chipset, do not install AquaTerm.

If you want to generate screen graphics, you need to install at least one of X11 or Aquaterm. We recommend installing both if you have the Intel chipset and X11 only if you have the M1 chipset.

A few notes on other Dataplot dependencies.

  • MacOS comes with the readline library. However, Dataplot is incompatible with this version. So the readline feature is only available if you use MacPorts.

  • The GD, Cairo and libplot graphics libraries are not available. Although you can build these libraries yourself, it is recommended that you use the MacPorts or Homebrew package managers if you want these capabilities.

  • If you want to run the GUI version of Dataplot, you need to install Tcl/Tk. The ActiveState web site has a MacOS version of Tcl/Tk that has been customized to have a MacOS look and feel. However, this version of Tcl/Tk does not work well with Dataplot. If you are experienced in installing Linux applications, you can try building Tcl/Tk from source. However, if you want to use the GUI, we strongly recommend that you use the MacPorts or Homebrew package managers.

Download and Unpack the Dataplot Files
Step 2: Download and Unpack the Dataplot Files The Dataplot files are available on the following github site

Select the "Clone or Download" menu and then select the "Download ZIP" text. This will save the file

Move this file to a convenient location on your system and then enter


Build Dataplot
Step 3: Build Dataplot After the unzip command, enter the commands

    cd src
    cp Makefile.mac Makefile

NOTE: The Makefile.mac file downloaded from git has some errors, so use this version of the Makefile instead.

The Makefile contains the following lines

    # Following recommend line for Intel chips
    # Following recommend line for M1 chips

The default line for FEATURES assumes you are using the M1 chipset. If you are using the Intel chipset, uncomment the line "# FEATURES = X11 AQUA MACOSX" and comment out the line "FEATURES = X11 MACOSX MACOSX_M1".

By default, Dataplot is installed in the "/usr/local" directories. If you want to install to another directory (e.g., you don't have super user permissions), you need to modify the "PREFIX = $(DESTDIR)/usr/local" line. To set it to your home directory, you can use "PREFIX = $(HOME)".

In most cases you should not need to modify anything other than the PREFIX and FEATURES lines.

After making any needed modifications to the Makefile, enter


If the Makefile does not show any errors, then do

    sudo make install

If you set the PREFIX line to a location that does notrequire root permissions, then you can omit the "sudo".

Problems with Downloading or Installation If you have problems with the download or installation, contact for assistance.
Test Dataplot Installation
Step 4: Test Command Line Version of Dataplot If you installed X11, open an xterm window and enter the following commands.

    device 1 x11
    call minitest.dp

If you installed Aquaterm, open a MacOS terminal window and enter the following commands.

    device 1 aquaterm
    call minitest.dp

Even if you only intend to use the GUI version, I recommend testing the command line version first since the GUI version is in fact running the command line version.

Be sure that the directory containing the Dataplot executable is in your path. For the default locations, enter the following

    set path=(/opt/homebrew/bin $path) (for M1 chipset)
    set path=(/usr/local/bin $path) (for Intel chipset)

For the Bourne shell, the comparable line for the .bashrc file is

    PATH=/opt/homebrew/bin:$PATH; export PATH (for M1 chipset)
    PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH; export PATH (for Intel chipset)
Step 4b: Testithe GUI version of Dataplot To test the Dataplot GUI, enter


Dataplot Configuration Files There are two configuration files that you may want to edit at some point.

  • The "/usr/local/lib/dataplot/dplogf.tex" file contains a default startup file that will be executed when you initiate Dataplot. This is an ASCII file containing Dataplot commands that is useful for specifying your own defaults for Dataplot. After you become more familiar with Dataplot, you may want to view this file to see if you would like to modify it for your own preferences.

    If you would like to create your own custom file , then do the following

      cp /usr/local/lib/dataplot/dplogf.tex ~/dplogf.tex

    Then edit ~/dplogf.tex using any ASCII editor. If you have a dplogf.tex file in your home directory, this will override the system version.

    How much you would like to utilize dplogf.tex is a personal preference.

  • The "/usr/local/lib/dataplot/frscript/xdpConfig" file is a configuration file for the GUI. In general, you will not need to edit this file. However, if you would like to create your own custom version, then

      cp /usr/local/lib/dataplot/frscript/xdpConfig ~/xdpConfig

    This is an ASCII file so edit ~/xdpConfig using your preferred ASCII editor. As with dplogf.tex, a copy of xdpConfig in your home directory will override the system version. See the comments in xdpConfig for guidance in editing this file.

Date created: 02/05/2024
Last updated: 02/15/2024

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