How use lidar data with QGIS for Mac with the LASTools package
This tutorial presupposes you have installed QGIS for Mac. If not, full instructions and downloads are available on the KyngChaos page. Obtaining a GIS package from a website called “kyngchaos” sounds dodgy, rest assured that it is the method approved by the QGIS developers themselves.
You may have already performed some of these steps; there is no need to repeat them if you have done so.
- Install Homebrew for mac if you have not done so already. Homebrew has great utility beyond QGIS.
- Install wine using homebrew
brew install wine
- Install XQuartz. XQuartz is a windowing system (if you know unix, it’s X) for Mac. If you are using an old Mac, it is probably already installed, but updating to the new version will not hurt. XQuartz is required because it is used as the windowing system for Microsoft Windows and Linux applications.
- Download and unzip lastools. Remember where you unzipped it.
- You’re almost done. Start QGIS. Select Processing/Options. In the Providers section scroll to “Tools for LiDAR Data”. Fill out the blanks:
- LASTools folder:
- Wine Folder:
Note: this is the default directory for the homebrew wine installation. If you want to check to make sure it’s correct, open a terminal (ie, Terminal app) and type:
which wine The output will tell you what to type in the box. Remove the ‘wine’ part of the entry.
- Restart QGIS. When you open the toolbox, you should have all the LAStools available in your toolbox.
Note: When you open one of the LAStools for the first time you will see a large number of error messages, etc. These are from wine and can be safely ignored.
Subsequent tool usage will be faster and have fewer errors, but there may still be some. If there are errors, they can be safely ignored as long as the LAStools are functioning.
Another note: When using some of the LAStools (like lasviewer), you will note that the processing toolbox dialogue does not disappear, making it look like QGIS has crashed. This is not the case – the wine window (ie, that which is displaying the lidar data) is part of the tool, and the processing dialogue box will close once you close the lidar window.
New for QGIS 3.x
LASTools are no longer enabled by default. To enable LASTools, follow these steps:
- Go to Plugins/Manage and Install Plugins
- Search for LASTools and install the plugin
- Once that’s done, LASTools (as opposed to “Tools for LiDAR Data”) will appear in the Processing Options, where you must check the “enable” button and follow the steps above.