Before switcthing to Mac OSX 10.8 everytime I launch application which uses x11 it was starting x11 automatically.

After switching to XQuartz and 10.8 it does not work anymore and I have to launch XQuartz manually.

How to launch XQuartz on demand?

  • Do you set DISPLAY in .bashrc/.profile/.bash_profile or the like? Check it by starting Terminal.app and typing echo $DISPLAY.
    – jaume
    May 15, 2013 at 10:28
  • No, I don't set it.
    – TOP KEK
    May 17, 2013 at 11:30

3 Answers 3


I was having the same problem. Quitting XQuartz and deleting ~/.Xauthority resolved the issue for me. I got the idea to do this from the Mountain Lion, Xquartz, and (lost) autostart thread in the Apple Mailing List. Other suggestions from that thread include:


I don't have to launch xQuartz, I just use Terminal and ssh -Y user@IP. Then X emulation appears to be available as I can launch X windows from the server.


I know this is an old question, but it's still occasionally relevant - so here's a different (but likely obscure) scenario that can lead to this.

Because zsh isn't always installed on (non Mac) systems, I've been in the habit of leaving bash as my default shell with an entry in .bash_profile which does exec zsh -l if zsh exists. This turned out to be the cause of XQuartz not auto launching in my case (even though I could manually start it from the command line) - likely because $DISPLAY wasn't set correctly in bash.

Once I switched my Mac shell to zsh, XQuartz will now auto launch when I run an X11 app locally or remotely.

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