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XQuartz (X11.app)
Developer(s) Jeremy Huddleston Sequoia, X.Org Foundation, Apple Inc.
Stable release
2.7.11 / October 29, 2016; 2 months ago (2016-10-29)
Written in C
Operating system macOS
Type Display server
License Apple Public Source License
MIT License
Website www.xquartz.org

XQuartz (formerly and often still informally referred to as X11.app) is Apple Inc.'s version of the X server, a component of the X Window System (X11, or shortened to simply X, and sometimes informally X-Windows) for macOS. The name "XQuartz" derives from Quartz, the macOS graphics framework, to which XQuartz connects these applications. XQuartz is a required component that allows cross-platform applications to run on the macOS, many of which are not specifically designed for macOS. This includes numerous scientific and academic software projects.[1]


X11.app was initially available as a downloadable public beta for Mac OS X v10.2 and later included as a standard package for Mac OS X v10.3. In Mac OS X v10.4, X11.app was an optional install included on the install DVD. Mac OS X v10.5, Mac OS X v10.6 and Mac OS X v10.7 installed X11.app by default, but from OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), Apple dropped dedicated support for X11.app, with users directed to the open source XQuartz project (to which it contributes) instead.[1]

In Mac OS X v10.4, Apple's X11 implemented X11 protocol release 6.6 (X11R6.6). This implementation includes an XFree86 4.4 based X11 window server, Quartz rootless window manager, libraries, and basic utilities such as xterm.[2] "Rootless" means that X window applications show up on the Quartz desktop, appearing like any other windowed Quartz application (that is, not in a virtual desktop contained within another window). In Mac OS X v10.5, X11 was updated to use X.Org Server (X11R7.2) rather than XFree86.[3] The source code for X11 is available from Apple. Some source code is available under the Apple Public Source License while the bulk is licensed under the MIT License.

Current version[edit]

The current version of XQuartz is a DDX (Device Dependent X[4]) included in the X.Org Server and implements support for hardware-accelerated 2D graphics (in versions prior to 2.1), hardware OpenGL acceleration and integration with Aqua, the macOS graphical user interface (GUI). As of version 2.7.9, XQuartz does not provide support for high-resolution Retina displays to X11 apps, which run in pixel-doubled mode on high-resolution displays. By running the following command, you would receive beta versions automatically rather than release versions on the website:

$ defaults write org.macosforge.xquartz.X11 SUFeedURL https://www.xquartz.org/releases/sparkle/beta.xml

MacPorts is an alternative way to install the current X11 version. Just install MacPorts and run the following command within Terminal.app to get the latest version of X11 server on you Mac OS:

$ sudo port -v install xorg-server

By replacing the "xorg-server" with "xorg-server-devel" in the above command, you will get a fully functional development version of the server. If you are also interested in other X.org client applications as well, please install them all by using the command:

$ sudo port -v install xorg



When you open the XQuartz application on your Mac, you can use unix-based commands to start any applications you want.

Take a calculator application for the example.

First, click the XQuartz icon in the path Applications —> Utilities —> XQuartz, a terminal will open. (if not, manually open a terminal window by selecting it in the navigation bar).

Second, enter open /usr/bin/x11/xcalc to start xcalc software within your terminal, a scientific calculator application should open, ready for use.


Mac-on-Mac (MoM) is a port of Mac-on-Linux for macOS. It is intended to be user-friendly. With this software, Mac OS X 10.0 through 10.3, Mac OS 9, OpenDarwin, and Linux can be run in a separate window on a Macintosh computer running macOS. The software requires X11 and a PPC-based Mac to run.

Table of versions (since 2010)[5][edit]

Version macOS Requirement Most important changes Release date
XQuartz 2.7.9 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2016-05-05
XQuartz 2.7.8 OS X 10.6.3 or later First release supported on El Capitan 2015-10-17
XQuartz 2.7.7 OS X 10.6.3 or later First release supported on Yosemite 2014-08-18
XQuartz 2.7.6 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2014-05-17
XQuartz 2.7.5 OS X 10.6.3 or later First release supported on Mavericks 2013-11-10
XQuartz 2.7.4 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2012-09-27
XQuartz 2.7.3 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2012-08-27
XQuartz 2.7.2 OS X 10.6.3 or later First release supported on Mountain Lion 2012-06-01
XQuartz 2.7.1 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2012-06-01
XQuartz 2.7.0 OS X 10.6.3 or later First release supported on Lion 2011-11-04
XQuartz 2.6.3 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2011-07-20
XQuartz 2.6.2 OS X 10.6.3 or later 2011-04-30
XQuartz 2.6.1 OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.3, or later 2011-03-17
XQuartz 2.6.0 OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.3, or later 2010-12-19
XQuartz 2.5.3 OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.3, or later 2010-08-13
XQuartz 2.5.2 OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.3, or later 2010-07-20
XQuartz 2.5.1 OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.3, or later 2010-07-10
XQuartz 2.5.0 OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.3, or later First release supported on Snow Leopard 2010-03-29

See also[edit]

  • MacX, X11 support on Classic Mac OS
  • XWayland, to support X application under Wayland
  • XDarwin, an implementation of X for macOS that preceded XQuartz, and supports versions of macOS before 10.3 unlike XQuartz


  1. ^ a b "Apple Removes X11 in OS X Mountain Lion, Shifts Support to Open Source XQuartz". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  2. ^ "XQuartz". 2016-09-14. 
  3. ^ "Macworld: Feature: Inside Leopard: Under-the-hood, Page 2". 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  4. ^ "Glossary". www.x.org. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  5. ^ "XQuartz - Releases Archive". www.xquartz.org. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 

External links[edit]