Inform 7 - won't compile [Mac App Store Version, Big Sur]

I’m trying to compile a project in the Inform 7 app (downloaded from the app store on a 2015 Mac running Big Sur). When I do this the toolbar at the top of the screen shows the message “Compiling Inform 7 to Inform 6” but nothing else happens - the progress bar remains empty and I can’t access the story tab.

I get the same problem regardless of whether I start a new project with the basic “Example location is a room.” default story or I open existing saved projects (which previously compiled normally on the app on this system).

The results tab gives me the following output:

Launching: ni “-internal” “/Applications/” “-external” “/Users/Laura/Library/Containers/com.inform7.inform-compiler/Data/Library/Inform” “-project” “/Users/Laura/Test project.inform” “-format=ulx”

Browsing through my library, I can see I don’t actually have a folder “/com.inform7.inform-compiler/” in the Containers folder. I presume that that is what is causing the problem. I’ve tried deleting the app, updating the OS and re-downloading and installing the application from the App store - none of that has resolved it or produced such a file.

Can anyone help? As far as I can see no one has reported similar issues on this forum, but I’m not particularly technically literate and want to make sure I’m not doing anything stupid before submitting a bug report.

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I’m on a Mac too, so I’ve heard of this. Apparently the app-store version is configured in its own special way with regard to storage folders that doesn’t line up with how the regular version does it. If you’ve started on one and move to the other it may be confused.

You could try downloading the current version of Inform 7 directly from the website and try again.

You could also try opening an existing project in Inform and browse to point it at the yourproject.i7x wherever it is on your computer. Reload it like it’s new, then perhaps that will show the compiler where to process it from.

Let us know if that helps, hopefully others may have better suggestions.

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The App Store version unfortunately didn’t receive the most recent update (the one listed as the “Interim 2019 Release” on the website) and therefore isn’t usable on macOS Catalina (10.15) or newer. You’ll have to resort to downloading from the website.


Downloading the interim 2019 release from the website resolved it for me. Thank you both.

Apologies if the info was out there somewhere - but as I searched and didn’t find it, I hope that this thread will at least make it a bit more accessible to others who encounter the same problem.


No need to apologize – Inform development has a few… unmarked speed bumps here and there. There are a bunch of things where searching and asking questions here is the best approach, and for some of them, it’s functionally the only approach. Mention of installation issues seems a clear leader for most glaring omission from the Inform 7 Documentation and Resources post and I’ll try to get to it soon.

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And the Euphemism of the Week Award goes to… Zed. :trophy:

Disclaimer to the people who make Inform work: You know I love you and Inform, blah blah blah!


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Indeed. It did feel like a little bit of a ‘man from Porlock’ experience.

Although I hadn’t thought of re-downloading from the website rather than the App store, I think the opening words on the download page (MacOS users may want to know that the current version of Inform is always available from the Mac App Store) could easily have thrown me off the track even if I had…

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See this thread and this about problems with the “Interim 2019 Release.” Editing is very slow on machines with a Touch Bar, and the text cursor becomes invisible in Dark Mode.

There is an unofficial version which fixes some problems, but others remain. Extension projects seem not to be working properly, for example.The tool bar is a also bit broken in the unofficial version.

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Since we’re talking about it here and the problem that was the proximate cause for the thread has been resolved, I’ll just dump this draft of a short commentary on installation here to ask for comments. I’d especially appreciate hearing what should be added or changed for Mac and Windows 'cause I don’t know those personally.

The official packages mentioned below are available on the Inform 7 downloads page.

MacOS users: Use the package on the I7 site; don’t try using the one from the App store (despite the assurance that “the current version of Inform is always available from the Mac App Store.”) There are known issues with slowness on machines with TouchBars and the cursor disappearing in Dark Mode. An unofficial MacOS IDE release addresses these.

Windows users: Use the package on the I7 site, or there’s a beta release of a new 64-bit-only Windows version.

Linux users: it’s complicated. The versions of Linux for which there’s an official IDE package have long since ceased to be supported. (“IDE” means “integrated development environment”, the software-develop-y term for the sort of editor / project manager / documentation lookup tool that the main Inform 7 application is.) That version was built with GTK 2; GTK 3 has been standard for a long time, so that version is hard to build on a modern machine. A GTK 3 update is in development; the Flatpak release of I7 6M62 for Linux is the easiest way to get it. For a discussion of known issues or how to build it yourself, see the Gnome-inform7 6L38/6M62 IDE thread.

There is also the CLI-only version for Linux, which comes with “the cheesy Perl interface”. Or consult How to use ni, inform6, and cBlorb by CLI for info on using those directly. Some projects to help are Vimform7, the Inform 7 extension for VS code, and inf7.

All of the official packages include some components for which there are more recent versions. Some updates can be found here:


Yes, from my fairly uninformed position this would have helped me. I’ll leave the technical details to others. Suggest putting it fairly high up in the post, as I think it’s probably the first speed bump you’re going to hit.

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Thank you! This saved me.

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I also had some problems after upgrading my OS. I had the official “interim” 2019 version and compiling a game would hang. Through some experimentation, it seems that the Mac IDE is very finicky about how you start it. If you start the IDE from an alias link and then load a project it will compile fine. If you click on a project file or click on the Inform App itself, it wouldn’t. I have no idea why this is or if it’s just something weird about my setup. But starting from the Alias link seems to solve it.
(posting in case anyone else runs into this issue or wants to see if it is repeatable.)