Installing PostgreSQL on Mac 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

September 07, 2009

These steps will install PostgreSQL in /usr/local.

  1. Download source from
  2. Unpack it somewhere convenient and change to that directory.
  3. Configure using the default installation location (/usr/local/pgsql) and a minimal set of options.
  4. $ ./configure --with-perl --with-python --with-openssl --with-bonjour PERL=/usr/bin/perl PYTHON=/usr/bin/python
  5. Run make
  6. $ make
  7. And finally, make install. For /usr/local installation this will need sudo.
    $ sudo make install

PostgreSQL should now be installed in /usr/local/pgsql.

Post Installation steps

  1. Add the PostgreSQL bin directory to Path and export by adding the following to your .bash_profile or .profile:
    if [ -d /usr/local/pgsql/bin ] ; then
    export PATH
  2. Create a directory to hold the database installation.
  3. $ cd /usr/local/pgsql
    $ sudo mkdir data
  4. Create a postgres user and a postgres group. Change ownership of the pgsql directory to postgres. PostgreSQL cannot be access by root (a security measure, one assumes). (Snow Leopard (10.6) eliminates the netinfo tool, so you get to build the group on the command line.) First find an unused User ID. The following command shows IDs already in use.
    $ dscl . -list /Users UniqueID | awk '{print $2}' | sort -n
    Next find an unused Group ID, again the following command shows IDs already in use.
    $ dscl . -list /Groups PrimaryGroupID | awk '{print $2}' | sort -n
  5. On the my system 103 was available in both lists, the rest of these directions assume you are using the same number. The following commands create the group and the user and set the user’s home directory to the pgsql folder.
  6. $ sudo dseditgroup -o create -i 103 -r "PostgreSQL Users" postgres
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres UniqueID 103
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres UserShell /bin/bash
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres RealName "Postgres Administrator"
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres NFSHomeDirectory /usr/local/pgsql
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres PrimaryGroupID 103
    $ sudu dscl . -create /Users/postgres Password postgres
    I was forced to visit the Accounts preference pane in System Preferences to reset the password for the postgres account. For reasons I don't understand setting it via the dscl command failed.
  7. Finally, give the postgres user ownership of the /usr/local/pgsql directory:
  8. $ sudo chown -R postgres:postgres /usr/local/pgsql
  9. Now you can switch users to the postgres account and run the initdb command to create a database installation. The command is:
    $ /usr/local/pgsql/bin/initdb -D /usr/local/pgsql/data
    The output should look something like:
  10. $ su postgres
    bash-3.2$ /usr/local/pgsql/bin/initdb -D /usr/local/pgsql/data
    The files belonging to this database system will be owned by user "postgres".
    This user must also own the server process.
    The database cluster will be initialized with locale en_US.UTF-8.
    The default database encoding has accordingly been set to UTF8.
    The default text search configuration will be set to "english".
    fixing permissions on existing directory /usr/local/pgsql/data ... ok
    creating subdirectories ... ok
    selecting default max_connections ... 20
    selecting default shared_buffers ... 2400kB
    creating configuration files ... ok
    creating template1 database in /usr/local/pgsql/data/base/1 ... ok
    initializing pg_authid ... ok
    initializing dependencies ... ok
    creating system views ... ok
    loading system objects' descriptions ... ok
    creating conversions ... ok
    creating dictionaries ... ok
    setting privileges on built-in objects ... ok
    creating information schema ... ok
    vacuuming database template1 ... ok
    copying template1 to template0 ... ok
    copying template1 to postgres ... ok
    WARNING: enabling "trust" authentication for local connections
    You can change this by editing pg_hba.conf or using the -A option the
    next time you run initdb.
    Success. You can now start the database server using:
        /usr/local/pgsql/bin/postgres -D /usr/local/pgsql/data
        /usr/local/pgsql/bin/pg_ctl -D /usr/local/pgsql/data -l logfile start
  11. Now you can start up the database server. I prefer the second of the two command examples shown at the end of the initialization step above:
  12. /usr/local/pgsql/bin/pg_ctl -D /usr/local/pgsql/data -l logfile start
    As it starts the database server in the background, thus freeing up your console for other uses. To stop a server running in the background you can type:
    /usr/local/pgsql/bin/pg_ctl stop
  13. Now you can create a database. Make sure you are operating as the *postgres* user, and issue the _createdb_ command.
  14. $ su postgres
    bash-3.2$ cd
    bash-3.2$ pwd
    bash-3.2$ createdb testdb
  15. Connect to the database, and start experimenting with SQL commands.
  16. bash-3.2$ psql testdb
    psql (8.4.0)
    Type "help" for help.


The best graphical user interface I’ve found for administering PostgreSQL is pgAdmin. You can download it here.

The postgres user account will appear in the fast user switching (FUS) list and as an account on the login screen. To hide the account on the login screen run the following command:

    $ sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ HiddenUsersList -array-add postgres

While this will hide postgres from the login window it will not hide it from the FUS list. Additionally, the list of accounts on the login window will have an “Other…” entry which will allow you to access the hidden account.

To unhide all accounts:

    $ sudo defaults delete /Library/Preferences/ HiddenUsersList
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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.