How To Install Docker Compose as a CLI Plugin on macOS

Learn how to install Docker Compose as a CLI plugin on macOS with this step-by-step guide. Ensure seamless integration and enhance your Docker workflows on macOS. Follow our easy instructions for a smooth setup process.

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Are you tired of complicated installation processes? Imagine setting up Docker Compose as a CLI plugin on your macOS easily. It will make your development work much more efficient.

This simple tutorial will show you step-by-step instructions on how to set up Docker Compose on MacOS. We’ll explain each part clearly. We’ll also help with any compatibility issues and show you how to optimize your setup.

Make your development easier by adding Docker Compose to your workflow. No more hassle with building dependencies or unreliable setups. Follow our easy instructions to get the most out of Docker Compose on your macOS.

What is Docker Compose?

Docker Compose is a vital tool for defining and running multi-container Docker applications. Docker Compose has been integrated as a Docker CLI plugin, enhancing its management and integration within Docker workflows. Docker Compose is a tool that helps you run multiple things together on your computer, like opening different apps simultaneously.  Instead of starting each thing individually, you give Docker Compose a simple instruction that gets everything going for you!

Key Features of Docker Compose:

  1. Define Multi-Container Applications: Use a YAML file to define the services, networks, and volumes that your application needs.
  2. Isolation: Each service runs in its container, ensuring that they are isolated from one another.
  3. Scaling: Easily scale services up or down with a single command.
  4. Version Control: Your entire application’s configuration is stored in a single file, which can be version-controlled along with your application code.
  5. Easy Environment Management: You can define different configurations for different environments (development, testing, production) in the Compose file.


Ensure you have Docker installed on your macOS system. You can download and install Docker Desktop from the official Docker website.


This guide will walk you through installing Docker Compose as a CLI plugin on macOS.

  1. Set Up the Docker CLI Plugins Directory: First, create the directory where Docker CLI plugins will be stored. By default, this directory is located at ~/.docker/cli-plugins.
    mkdir -p $DOCKER_CONFIG/cli-plugins
  2. Download the Correct Docker Compose Binary: Depending on your Mac’s architecture (Intel or Apple Silicon), download the appropriate binary for Docker Compose.
    For Intel (x86_64):
    curl -SL -o $DOCKER_CONFIG/cli-plugins/docker-compose
    For Apple Silicon (aarch64):
    curl -SL -o $DOCKER_CONFIG/cli-plugins/docker-compose
    If you encounter a timeout or other download issues, try switching networks or using a different method to download the file.
  3. Make the Binary Executable: After downloading the correct binary, you need to make it executable:
    chmod +x $DOCKER_CONFIG/cli-plugins/docker-compose
  4. Verify the Installation: To ensure Docker Compose has been installed correctly, check its version:
    $DOCKER_CONFIG/cli-plugins/docker-compose version
    You should see the version information for Docker Compose, indicating that it has been installed successfully.
  5. Check Docker Compose Integration: Verify that Docker recognizes the docker-compose plugin:
    docker compose version

This command should output the version of Docker Compose, confirming that the integration is successful.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

  1. Compatibility
    Ensure that your macOS version is compatible with Docker Compose. Check the Docker documentation for the supported operating systems.
  2. Dependency Issues
    If you encounter dependency issues, make sure you have the required dependencies installed. Use `brew doctor` to check for any conflicting software or missing dependencies.
  3. Permissions
    If you run into permission errors, ensure that you have sufficient privileges to install Docker Compose. Use `sudo` or run the installation commands as an administrator.
  4. Network Connectivity
    If the download or installation process is slow or interrupted, check your network connectivity. Ensure you have a stable internet connection and try again.
  5. Exec Format Error
    If you encounter an “exec format error,” it indicates that the binary is incompatible with your system. Ensure you have downloaded the correct binary for your architecture (x86_64 for Intel, aarch64 for Apple Silicon).
  6. Download Failures
    Network issues can sometimes cause download failures. You can try the following:
  7. Permissions Issues: Ensure the binary has executable permissions:
    chmod +x $DOCKER_CONFIG/cli-plugins/docker-compose
  8. To check if Docker and Docker Compose are installed on macOS, use:
docker --version
docker-compose --version


Installing Docker Compose as a CLI plugin on macOS enhances its usability within the Docker ecosystem. By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth installation process and integrate Docker Compose seamlessly into your workflows. If you encounter any issues, double-check the steps and ensure all paths and filenames are correct. For further assistance, refer to Docker’s official documentation or seek help from the Docker community on forums like Stack Overflow or Docker’s community forums.

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