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qmake error: Project ERROR: failed to parse default search paths from compiler output on MacOS High Sierra

  • I just encountered the same problem like here: Can't get qmake to work from command line on MacOS High Sierra

    It seems that clang on High Sierra got a bit more picky when it comes to paths from environment variables.

    I had something like this in my .profile:

    export LD_PATH="$LD_PATH:$HOME/.local/lib"

    But LD_PATH was empty before this line, so the content had a colon in the beginning. E.g. like this:


    That lead to the error. Removing the colon or the content made qmake work again.

    I would blame this on OSX High Sierra, because I upgraded a machine to it which had a previous Qt installation lying around which worked fine before the upgrade.

    I thought I might put this solution out there, so others do not need to use as much time to solve this as I did.

  • For others a similar problem on MacOS 10.15:

    "Project ERROR: failed to parse default search paths from compiler output"

    Issue was also similar - instead the shell variable 'LIBRARY_PATH' also somehow started with a colon. Fixed this and it also was resolved.

  • Lifetime Qt Champion


    Usually when adding something to these variables, they are prepended because the goal is to make the newly added path(s) take precedence over the original list.

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