Creating standalone Mac OS X applications with Python and py2app
"py2app is a Python setuptools command which will allow you to make standalone application bundles and plugins from Python scripts. py2app is similar in purpose and design to py2exe for Windows."
Relevant links about py2app:
This guide is loosely based on the official tutorial. Based on a Python file called
Sandwich.py, we’ll create an application called
Create a custom directory and create a virtualenv:
Now create a very simple Tkinter app with the filename
This little app will look like this:
The original version of py2app has a bug due to a newer version of ModuleGraph. I made a fork of the project and fixed this bug on Github. Install it with pip like this:
py2applet, a helper which generates a setup.py file for you:
setup.py is a basic definition of the app:
If your application uses some data files, like a JSON, text files or images, you should include them in DATA_FILES. For example:
Build the app for development and testing
py2app builds the standalone application based on the definition in
For testing and development, py2app provides an “alias mode”, which builds an app with symbolic links to the development files:
This creates the following files and directories:
This is not a standalone application, and the applications built in alias mode are not portable to other machines!
The app built with alias mode simply references the original code files, so any changes you make to the original
Sandwich.py file are instantly available on the next app start.
The resulting development app in
dist/Sandwich.app can be opened just like any other .app with the Finder or the open command (
$ open dist/Sandwich.app). To run your application directly from the Terminal you can just run:
Building for deployment
When everything is tested you can produce a build for deployment with a calling
python setup.py py2app. Make sure that any old
dist directories are removed:
This will assemble your application as
dist/Sandwich.app. Since this application is self-contained, you will have to run the py2app command again any time you change any source code, data files, options, etc.
The original py2app has a bug which would display “
AttributeError: 'ModuleGraph' object has no attribute 'scan_code'” or
load_module. If you encounter this error, take a look at this StackOverflow thread or use my fork of py2app.
The easiest way to wrap your application up for distribution at this point is simply to right-click the application from Finder and choose “Create Archive”.
Adding an icon
"iconfile": "youricon.icns" to the
Advanced app settings
You can tweak the application information and behaviour with modifications to the
Info.plist. The most complete reference for the keys available is Apple’s Runtime Configuration Guidelines.
Here is an example with more modifications:
With these settings, the app will have the following infos:
- py2app documentation, examples
- Tkinter, Tkinter resource collection, An Introduction to Tkinter
- Submitting a Python App to the Mac App Store (dafoster.net)
- PyInstaller - Another tool to create cross-platform standalone apps (libraries like PyQt, Django or matplotlib are fully supported)
- rumps - Ridiculously Uncomplicated Mac OS X Python Statusbar Apps
- py2exe - same as py2app but for Windows .exe files
- cx_Freeze - Another packager to create Windows .exe files
- Discussion of this post on Hacker News
If you have suggestions, feedback or ideas, please reach out to me @metachris.