macOS Mojave: Install TensorFlow and Keras for Deep Learning

Inside this tutorial, you will learn how to configure macOS Mojave for deep learning.

After you’ve gone through this tutorial, your macOS Mojave system will be ready for (1) deep learning with Keras and TensorFlow, and (2) ready for Deep Learning for Computer Vision with Python.

A tutorial on configuring Mojave has been a long time coming on my blog since the Mojave OS was officially released in September 2018.

The OS was plagued with problems from the get-go, and I decided to hold off. I’m still actually running High Sierra on my machines, but after putting this guide together I feel confident in recommending Mojave to PyImageSearch readers.

Apple has fixed most of the bugs, but as you’ll see in this guide, Homebrew (an unofficial package manager for macOS) doesn’t make everything especially easy.

If you’re ready with a fresh install of macOS Mojave and are up for today’s challenge, let’s get started configuring your system for deep learning.

Also released today is my Ubuntu 18.04 deep learning configuration guide with optional GPU support. Be sure to check it out!

To learn how to configure macOS for deep learning and computer vision with Python, just keep reading.

macOS Mojave: Install TensorFlow and Keras for Deep Learning

Inside of this tutorial, we’ll review the seven steps to configuring Mojave for deep learning.

Inside of Step #3, we’ll do some Homebrew formulae kung fu to get Python 3.6 installed.

You see, Homebrew now by default installs Python 3.7.

This presents a challenge to us in the deep learning community because Tensorflow does not yet officially support Python 3.7.

The TensorFlow team is definitely working on Python 3.7 support — but if you’re running macOS Mojave you probably don’t want to twiddle your thumbs and wait until Python 3.7 support is officially released.

If you’ve run into this conundrum, then my install guide is for you.

Let’s begin!

Step #1: Install and configure Xcode

For starters, you’ll need to get Xcode from the Apple App Store and install it. Don’t worry, it is 100% free.

Figure 1: Download Xcode for macOS Mojave prior to setting up your system for deep learning.

After Xcode has been downloaded and installed from the App Store, open a terminal and execute the following command to accept the developer license:

Press “enter” then scroll to the bottom with the “space” key and then type “agree”.

The next step is to install Apple command line tools:

This will launch a window where you need to press “Install“. From there, you’ll have to accept another agreement (this time with a button). Finally, a download progress window will launch and you’ll need to wait a few minutes.

Step #2: Install Homebrew on macOS Mojave

Homebrew (also known as Brew), is a package manager for macOS. You may already have it on your system, but if you don’t you will want to follow the commands in this section to install it.

First, we’ll install Homebrew by copying and pasting the entire command into your terminal:

Next, we’ll update our package definitions:

Followed by updating your ~/.bash_profile  using the  nano  terminal editor (any other editor should do the trick as well):

Add the following lines to the file:

Figure 2: Editing the ~/.bash_profile to ensure that Homebrew is set up with your PATH. We will use Homebrew to install some of the tools on macOS Mojave for deep learning.

To save and close, press “ctrl + o” (save), then “enter” to keep the filename, and finally “ctrl + x” (exit).

Let’s reload our profile:

Now that Brew is ready to go, let’s get Python 3.6 installed.

Step #3: Downgrade Python 3.7 to Python 3.6 on macOS Mojave

I have a love-hate relationship with Homebrew. I love how convenient it is and how the volunteer team supports so much software. They do a really great job. They’re always on top of their game supporting the latest software.

The problem with Mojave is that by default Homebrew will install Python 3.7, but 3.7 is not (yet) supported by TensorFlow.

Therefore, we need to do some Kung Fu to get Python 3.6 installed on Mojave.

If you try to install Python 3.6 directly, you’ll encounter this problem:

Figure 3: The sphinx-doc + Python 3.7 circular dependency causes issues with installing Python 3.6 on macOS Mojave.

The problem is that sphinx-doc  depends on Python 3.7, and Python 3.6.5 depends on sphinx-doc  which depends on Python 3.7.

Reading that sentence may give you a headache, but I think you get the point that we have a circular dependency problem.

Note: The following steps worked for me and I tested them twice on two fresh instances of Mojave. If you know of an improved way to install Python 3.6, please let me and the community know in the comments.

Let’s take steps to fix the circular dependency issue.

First, install Python (this installs Python 3.7 which we will later downgrade):

Now we need to remove the circular dependency.

Let’s go ahead and edit the Homebrew formulae for sphinx-doc  as that is where the problem lies:

Now scroll down and remove the Python dependency by placing a #  in front of it to comment it out:

Figure 4: Removing the sphinx-doc dependency on Python 3.7. This will ultimately allow us to install Python 3.6 on macOS Mojave for deep learning.

Once you’ve added the #  to comment this line out, go ahead and save + exit.

From there, just reinstall sphinx-doc:

Now it is time to install Python 3.6.5.

The first step is to unlink Python:

And from there we can actually install Python 3.6:

From here you should check which Python is being used by querying the version:

Inspect the output of the first command ensuring that you see local/  in between /usr/  and bin/python3 .

As our output indicates, we are now using Python 3.6.5!

Step #4: Install brew packages for OpenCV on macOS Mojave

The following tools need to be installed for compilation, image I/O, and optimization:

After those packages are installed we’re ready to create our Python virtual environment.

Step #5: Create your Python virtual environment in macOS Mojave

As I’ve stated in other install guides on this site, virtual environments are definitely the way to go when working with Python, enabling you to accommodate different versions in sandboxed environments.

If you mess up an environment, you can simply delete the environment and rebuild it, without affecting other Python virtual environments.

Let’s install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper via pip :

From there, we’ll update our ~/.bash_profile  again:

Where we’ll add the following lines to the file:

Figure 5: Editing the ~/.bash_profile again, this time to accommodate virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper tools for Python virtual environments.

Followed by reloading the profile:

Check for any errors in the terminal output. If virtualenvwrapper  and Python 3.6 are playing nice together, you should be ready to create a new virtual environment.

Creating the dl4cv virtual environment on macOS Mojave

The dl4cv  environment will house TensorFlow, Keras, OpenCV and all other associated Python packages for my deep learning book. You can of course name the environment whatever you want, but from here on we’ll be referring to it as dl4cv .

To create the dl4cv  environment with Python 3 simply enter the following command:

After Python 3 and supporting scripts are installed into the new environment, you should actually be inside the environment.  This is denoted by   (dl4cv)  at the beginning of your bash prompt as shown in the figure below:

Figure 6: The workon command allows us to activate a Python virtual environment of our choice. In this case, I’m activating the dl4cv environment on macOS Mojave for deep learning.

If you do not see the modified bash prompt then you can enter the following command at any time to enter the environment at any time:

Just to be on the safe side, let’s check which Python our environment is using and query the version once again:

Notice that the python executable is in ~/.virtualenvs/dl4cv/bin/ , our dl4cv  virtual environment. Also triple check here that you’re using Python 3.6.5.

When you’re sure your virtual environment is properly configured with Python 3.6.5 it is safe to move on and install software into the environment.

Let’s continue to Step #6.

Step #6: Install OpenCV on macOS Mojave

We have two options for installing OpenCV for compatibility with my deep learning book.

The first method (Step #6a) is by using a precompiled binary available in the Python Package Index (where pip pulls from). The disadvantage is that the maintainer has chosen not to compile patented algorithms into the binary.

The second option (Step #6b) is to compile OpenCV from source. This method allows for full control over the compile including optimizations and patented algorithms (“nonfree”).

I recommend going with the first option if you are a beginner, constrained by time, or if you know you don’t need patented algorithms (DL4CV does not require the added functionality). The first option will require just 5 minutes.

Power users should go with the second option while allowing for about 40 to 60 minutes to compile.

Step #6a: Install OpenCV with pip

Ensure you’re working in the dl4cv  environment and then enter the pip install  command with the package name as shown:

Note: If you require a specific version you can use the following syntax: pip install opencv-contrib-python==3.4.4 .

Congrats! You now have OpenCV installed.

From here you can skip to Step #7.

Step #6b: Compile and Install OpenCV

If you performed Step #6a you should skip this option and go to Step #7.

Let’s compile OpenCV from source.

The only Python dependency required by OpenCV is NumPy, which we can install via:

First, let’s download the source code:

Note: You can replace  with  or higher if you’d like to use a different version of OpenCV. Just make sure that both the opencv  and opencv_contrib  downloads are for the same version!

Next unpack the archives:

And rename the directories:

Note: Replace the folder name in the command with the one corresponding to your version of OpenCV.

To prepare our compilation process we use CMake.

It is very important that you copy the CMake command exactly as it appears here, taking care to copy and past the entire command; I would suggest clicking the “<>” button in the toolbar below to expand the entire command:

Note: For the above CMake command, I spent considerable time creating, testing, and refactoring it. I’m confident that it will save you time and frustration if you use it exactly as it appears. Make sure you click the “<>” button in the toolbar of the code block above to expand the code block. This will enable you to copy and paste the entire command.

Running CMake will take 2-5 minutes.

You should always inspect your CMake output for errors and to ensure your compile settings are set as intended.

Your output should be similar to the screenshots below which ensure that the correct Python 3 binary/library and NumPy version are utilized as well as “non-free algorithms” being on:

Figure 7: Inspecting OpenCV CMake output prior to installing deep learning frameworks on macOS.

Figure 8: Ensuring that the OpenCV patented (“non-free”) algorithms are installed.

If your CMake output for OpenCV matches mine, then we’re ready to actually compile OpenCV:

Note: Most macOS machines will have at least 4 cores/CPUs. You can (and should) edit the flag above with a number according to your system’s processing specs to speedup the compile process.

Figure 9: OpenCV compilation is complete on macOS Mojave.

From there you can install OpenCV:

After installing it is necessary to sym-link the  file into the dl4cv  virtual environment.

What we need to do is create a link from where OpenCV was installed into the virtual environment itself. This is known as a symbolic link.

Let’s go ahead and take care of that now, first by grabbing the name of the .so  file:

And now let’s rename the .so  file:

Note: If you have multiple OpenCV versions ever installed in your system, you can use this same naming convention and symbolic linking method.

Finally, we can test out the install:

If your output properly shows the version of OpenCV that you installed, then you’re ready to go on to Step #7 where we will install the Keras deep learning library.

Step #7: Install TensorFlow and Keras on macOS Mojave

Before beginning this step, ensure you have activated the dl4cv  virtual environment. If you aren’t in the environment, simply execute:

Then, using pip , install the required Python computer vision, image processing, and machine learning libraries:

Next, install matplotlib and update the rendering backend:

Be sure to read this guide about Working with Matplotlib on OSX, if you’re ever having trouble with plots not showing up.

Then, install TensorFlow:

Followed by Keras:

To verify that Keras is installed properly we can import it and check for errors:

Keras should be imported with no errors, while stating that TensorFlow is being utilized as the backend.

At this point, you can familiarize yourself with the ~/.keras/keras.json  file:

Figure 10: The Keras configuration file allows you to set the backend as well as other settings.

Ensure that the image_data_format  is set to channels_last  and that the backend  is set to tensorflow .

Pre-configured environments

Congratulations! you’ve successfully configured your macOS Mojave desktop/laptop for deep learning!

You’re now ready to go. If you didn’t grab up a tea or coffee during the installation process, now is the time. It’s also the time to find a comfortable spot to read Deep Learning for Computer Vision with Python.

Did you have any trouble configuring your Mojave deep learning system?

If you struggled along the way, I encourage you to re-read the instructions and attempt to debug. If you’re still struggling, you can reach out in the DL4CV companion website issue tracker (there’s a registration link in the front of your book) or by contacting me.

I also want to take the opportunity to inform you about the pre-configured instances that come along with your book:

  • The DL4CV VirtualBox VM is pre-configured and ready to go with Ubuntu 18.04 and all other necessary deep learning packages/libraries. This VM is able to run in isolation on top of your macOS operating system inside of a tool called VirtualBox. It will help you through nearly all experiments in the Starter and Practitioner bundles. For the ImageNet bundle, a GPU is a necessity and this VM does not support GPUs.
  • My DL4CV Amazon Machine Image for the AWS cloud is freely open to the internet — no purchase required (other than AWS charges, of course). Getting started with a GPU in the cloud only takes about 4-6 minutes. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can use a GPU instance for an hour or two which is just enough time to complete some (definitely not all) of the more advanced lessons in DL4CV. The following environments are pre-configured: dl4cv , mxnet , tfod_api , mask_rcnn , and retinanet .

Azure users should consider the Azure DSVM. You can read my review of the Microsoft Azure DSVM here. All code from one of the first releases of DL4CV in 2017 was tested using Microsoft’s DSVM. Additional configuration is required for the DSVM to support the Bonus Bundle chapters of DL4CV, but other than that you won’t find yourself installing very many tools. If Azure is your preferred cloud provider, I encourage you to stick with Azure take advantage of what the DSVM has to offer.

Ready to get your start in deep learning? Grab your free sample chapters to my deep learning book.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to work through my deep learning book, I sincerely hope that this tutorial helped on your journey.

But if are interested in mastering deep learning for computer vision, look no further than Deep Learning for Computer Vision with Python.

Francois Chollet, AI researcher at Google and creator of Keras, had this to say about my deep learning book:

This book is a great, in-depth dive into practical deep learning for computer vision. I found it to be an approachable and enjoyable read: explanations are clear and highly detailed. You’ll find many practical tips and recommendations that are rarely included in other books or in university courses. I highly recommend it, both to practitioners and beginners. — Francois Chollet

And Adam Geitgey, the author of the popular Machine Learning is Fun! blog series, said this:

I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Deep Learning for Computer Vision with Python. It goes into a lot of detail and has tons of detailed examples. It’s the only book I’ve seen so far that covers both how things work and how to actually use them in the real world to solve difficult problems. Check it out! — Adam Geitgey

If you’re interested in studying deep learning applied to computer vision, this is the perfect book for you.

Inside my book you will:

  • Study the foundations of machine learning and deep learning in an accessible manner that balances both theory and implementation
  • Learn advanced deep learning techniques, including multi-GPU training, transfer learning, object detection (Faster R-CNNs, SSDs, RetinaNet), segmentation (Mask R-CNNs), and Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), just to name a handful.
  • Replicate the results of state-of-the-art papers, including ResNet, SqueezeNet, VGGNet, and others on the 1.2 million ImageNet dataset.

You’ll also learn through the best possible balance of both theory and hands-on implementation. For each theoretical deep learning concept, you’ll find an associated Python implementation to help you solidify the knowledge.

Not to mention, you’ll also have access to my installation guides and pre-configured environments!

You really can’t go wrong with any of the bundles and I allow for upgrades at any time. Feel free to purchase a lower tier bundle and when you’re ready to upgrade just send me an email and I will get you the upgrade link.

So why put it off any longer?

You can learn deep learning and computer vision — and you can embark on your journey today.

I’ll be with you every step of the way.

Grab your free deep learning sample chapters PDF!


In today’s post, we configured our macOS Mojave box for computer vision and deep learning. The main pieces of software included Python 3.6, OpenCV, TensorFlow, and Keras accompanied by dependencies and installation/compilation tools.

Python 3.7 is not yet officialy supported by TensorFlow so you should avoid it at all costs (for the time being).

Instead, we learned how to downgrade from Python 3.7 to Python 3.6 on macOS Mojave and put all of the software into a Python 3.6 virtual environment named dl4cv .

If you would like to put your newly configured macOS deep learning environment to good use, I would highly suggest you take a look at my new book, Deep Learning for Computer Vision with Python.

Regardless if you’re new to deep learning or already a seasoned practitioner, the book has content to help you reach deep learning mastery — take a look here.

To be notified when future blog posts are published here on PyImageSearch (and grab my 17-page Deep Learning and Computer Vision Resource Guide PDF), just enter your email address in the form below!

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34 Responses to macOS Mojave: Install TensorFlow and Keras for Deep Learning

  1. sophia January 30, 2019 at 10:28 am #

    Hi Adrian, Thanks for this detailed tutorial. I was wondering if there is any disadvantage to installing Anaconda, and using conda environments as opposed to the path you recommend in this tutorial. Thanks,

    • Adrian Rosebrock January 30, 2019 at 11:16 am #

      Anaconda is a great tool but I think it’s super important to understand what’s going on under the hood and configure a machine from scratch. Deep learning, at least the latest incarnation of it, is still very much in its infancy so errors can and will happen — being able to diagnose and fix those errors is a critical skill to have. When you configuring a DL system from scratch you’ll learn that skill.

      Secondly, whether or not you use Anaconda, virtualenv/virtualenvwrapper, venv, etc. is a personal preference. I’m not telling you which one to use — that’s your choice. But if you follow the PyImageSearch blog I’ll show you the way I do it and in turn I’ll be able to help you better.

  2. Jeff January 30, 2019 at 10:28 am #

    Cuirious if you’ve tried an eGPU and tensorflow-gpu with Mac?

    • Adrian Rosebrock January 30, 2019 at 11:14 am #

      No, I’ve never tried and I honestly don’t have any plans to. It’s really not worth it. Yes, it will be faster to train with just a CPU but you’ll still have to deal with the latency. You’re better off spending your money on a true deep learning rig or using the cloud.

      • Jeff January 31, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

        Probably. Do you mean latency between the Mac and the eGPU? Thunderbolt 3 should take care of that. But Nvidia drivers aren’t supported so it’s a bit sketchy anyway. Thanks for all your helpful tutorials!

    • George Profenza January 30, 2019 at 8:00 pm #

      @Jeff For a while now tensorflow-gpu is no longer supported on OSX (guessing it’s a massive headache to deal with nvidia drivers on osx and newer macs using ATI GPUs).
      I haven’t tried compiling the latest version, but I remember going down a few rabbit holes before compiling tensorflow-gpu 1.6 on OSX. See details here:

      While there is a speed-up from CPU to GPU it’s pretty limited on my Macbook for example with a 2GB VRAM GPU: @Adrian Rosebrock’s suggestion is solid !

      (eGPU sounds nice but you need to fork money for the card + enclosure, hope drivers will just work all the time plus you’ll have go through all these headaches to compile tensorflow-gpu from source each time there’s a new update (if you want to stay up to date) -> having a deep learning rig means or cloud would allow you to use your machine the same and remote into another to train/infer/etc.)

  3. dimka11 January 31, 2019 at 2:14 am #

    On Mojave we can’t use any videocard newer than Nvidia Kepler architecture because lack of Nvidia web driver, and AMD cards not support CUDA then there is no reason to use Mojave.

  4. Mingen Lee February 2, 2019 at 11:30 pm #

    Thanks for this great information.

    If someone is running with Mac mini Server then you need to install Java and following three commands before running cmake

    pip install flask8
    pip install pylint
    brew install vtk

  5. Son Vo February 3, 2019 at 3:28 am #

    Thanks Adrian very much! Your tutorial is so practical.

    • Adrian Rosebrock February 4, 2019 at 9:14 am #

      You are welcome, Son Vo!

  6. Evhenii February 9, 2019 at 6:42 am #

    Adrian. Many thanks for your advice for configuration macOS Mojave. It’s beneficial for me because I’m using my mac when I travel.

    • Adrian Rosebrock February 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

      You are welcome Evhenii!

  7. EP February 11, 2019 at 5:25 pm #

    Experiencing some difficulty with your circular dependency fix:

    If I comment out the “depends on python” line and then reinstall sphinx-doc, the dependency comes back, as it reinstalls sphinx-doc. But if I just comment it out and move forward with your comments, no error.

    HOWEVER: all is well up to the point where I try to create: mkvirtualenv dl4cv -p python3

    whereupon I get the following error: -bash: /usr/local/bin/virtualenv: /usr/local/opt/python/bin/python3.7: bad interpreter: No such file or directory

    my .bash_profile is set correctly, so is there a fix?

    I should note I had previously started installing OpenCV4 against python3.7 and found your page and started from there. Many thanks.

    • David Hoffman February 14, 2019 at 3:40 pm #

      Hi EP, Dave from PyImageSearch here. Another one of Adrian’s readers had this problem and was able to resolve it. By chance did you already have your Mojave system setup with virtualenv + virtualenvwrapper? Here’s what worked for them: They solved the problem by uninstalling virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper. Then comment out the dependency line in the sphinx-doc formulae, and finally reinstall sphinx-doc and proceed with the instructions. If you are still having trouble, please send an email to us via the contact form.

  8. Hsinjun Lin February 17, 2019 at 4:56 am #

    Thanks Adrian very much! Great tutorial help me to configure my mac.

    • Adrian Rosebrock February 20, 2019 at 12:39 pm #

      Awesome, glad to hear it! 🙂

  9. Tonto February 28, 2019 at 1:49 pm #

    for me installing tensorflow and keras worked without downgrading to 3.6 on Mojave.
    Should I expect some problems now?

    • Adrian Rosebrock February 28, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

      Can you confirm your Mojave version just to make sure?

  10. Josh March 6, 2019 at 3:53 am #

    Hey Adrian,

    Quick questions. If the “non-free” algorithms were not installed can I still install them? I get a “NO” rather than the “YES”. I searched and it said that that algorithms such as SIFT and SURF where no longer included. Is it still possible to install them? Thanks!

    • Adrian Rosebrock March 8, 2019 at 5:49 am #

      You can install them but unfortunately you will need to re-compile. There is no way to add them in after compiling.

  11. Carl Goodier March 8, 2019 at 12:12 am #

    Adrian – Thanks a million…….. from the whole WWW which I have searched and wasted 36 hours trying to install on Mac Mojave, you are the only one with a clear and errorless way to install Tensor flow for MacOS.

    I even tried anaconda, and came back to brew, and had the same issues down grading from 3.7 to 3.6.5

    Thanks very very very much


    • Adrian Rosebrock March 8, 2019 at 5:20 am #

      Thanks Carl, I really appreciate the kind words 🙂 And congrats on configuring your macOS machine for deep learning!

  12. Sashank Pappu May 28, 2019 at 5:31 am #

    Hi Adrian ,

    If someone has problem of now having Python 3.6.5 updated even after the above changed , i tried below command to link 3.6.5 to the python as below :

    brew link –overwrite python

    This will solve the problem of version after updating your steps . As this issue i had it and wanted to let others know if they faced same issued the above is the solution for it .

    Thank you,
    Sashank Pappu

    • Adrian Rosebrock May 30, 2019 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks for sharing, Sashank!

  13. AaronM June 17, 2019 at 4:02 am #

    Hi, Adrian

    this link about Deep Learning about Mac with AMD GPU. (Keras with PlaidML)

    and Github:

    Maybe you can create a tutorial for AMD Graphic card.

  14. Vidyanand October 8, 2019 at 10:07 am #

    you are amazing.i was struggling to install tensor flow on Mac and wasted so many days till I landed on your portal. thank you!

    • Adrian Rosebrock October 10, 2019 at 10:17 am #

      Congrats on getting TensorFlow installed, Vidyanand!

  15. Roderick December 1, 2019 at 9:01 am #

    Has this page been updated for TF2? Can you confirm ?
    I wonder if Python 3.7 is still an issue (December 2019) and if installing TF and Keras as described is still correct. Please advise.

    • Adrian Rosebrock December 5, 2019 at 10:33 am #

      I’m publishing a dedicated tutorial for TensorFlow 2.0 on Monday, December 9th. Stay tuned!

  16. PS December 4, 2019 at 12:57 pm #

    When I run the below step

    pip3 install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper

    I am getting following error.

    pip is configured with locations that require TLS/SSL, however the ssl module in Python is not available.

    Can someone help with the same.


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