Often I need to work on two qgis projects at the same time. How can I launch two separate instances of QGIS?

4 Answers 4


This is not necessarily specific to QGIS but is a question I often get with QGIS users needing to reference two projects at the same time.

open a terminal window and type:

open -n /Applications/QGIS.app

Or for QGIS3, open a terminal window and type:

open -n /Applications/QGIS3.app

this format will work with any application:

open -n /Applications/Application.app

  • or directly /Applications/QGIS.app/Contents/MacOS/QGIS without open
    – gene
    Apr 14, 2016 at 16:24
  • This works, but keeps the terminal output active--which one might want, but if you just want to open an instance w/o any additional terminal output, use 'open -n'
    – jamierob
    Mar 28, 2017 at 18:02

You can make an Automator script to launch as many QGIS instances as you want.

Create a new Automator application process.

Add « Run shell script action »

and type this:



If you stop the running process, QGIS will still run and you'll be able to launch a third, a fourth, etc instance of QGIS.

enter image description here


Under MacOS 10.15.7 Catalina, opening the app directly in Automator would not create a new instance if QGIS was already running.

This Automator code worked for me: make a new Automator Application, add "Run Shell Script" with options "Shell: /bin/zsh" and "Pass input: as arguments", with this command:

open -n -a  /Applications/QGIS.app/Contents/MacOS/QGIS $argv

Save this as "QGIS New Instance.app" in your /Applications folder. This has the advantage that you can drop a file on the Automator Application and have it open in QGIS. Of course, you have to adjust the path to where you keep QGIS.


With an already open instance of QGIS, typing qgis into the command line in the terminal opens a subsequent instance of QGIS

Tested on Max M1 with QGIS 3.30.1

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