Homebrew vs. MacPorts package managers

MacOS package managers allow easy download, build and install of developer programs and libraries.

Homebrew is by far the most popular MacOS package manager. Homebrew has a large number of packages and the ability to create unofficial “taps” to easily distribute software. Homebrew installs packages under “/opt/homebrew” on Apple Silicon systems. Homebrew taps allow distributing binaries via Homebrew before going to include in the main homebrew package repo, which takes time and justification. Homebrew distributes per-OS compiled binaries, so package install time is almost instant. It is possible to also download source and build locally with Homebrew if desired.

MacPorts generally distributes source code that is compiled on install, although it can also use precompiled binaries. Macports installs packages under a prefix.

Homebrew is much more popular than MacPorts or Fink.

Package popularity comparison: