Mage is a make/rake-like build tool using Go. You write plain-old go functions, and Mage automatically uses them as Makefile-like runnable targets.


Mage has no dependencies outside the Go standard library, and builds with Go 1.7 and above (possibly even lower versions, but they’re not regularly tested).

Install mage by running

go get -u -d
cd $GOPATH/src/
go run bootstrap.go

This will download the code into your GOPATH, and then run the bootstrap script to build mage with version infomation embedded in it. A normal go get (without -d) will build the binary correctly, but no version info will be embedded. If you’ve done this, no worries, just go to $GOPATH/src/ and run mage install or go run bootstrap.go and a new binary will be created with the correct version information.

The mage binary will be created in your $GOPATH/bin directory.

You may also install a binary release from our releases page.



Join the #mage channel on gophers slack for discussion of usage, development, etc.


There are no plugins. You don’t need plugins. It’s just Go code. You can import whatever libraries you want. Every library in the go ecosystem is a mage plugin. Every tool you use with Go can be used with Magefiles.


mage [options] [target]

Mage is a make-like command runner.  See for full docs.

  -clean    clean out old generated binaries from CACHE_DIR
  -compile <string>
            output a static binary to the given path
  -init     create a starting template if no mage files exist
  -l        list mage targets in this directory
  -h        show this help
  -version  show version info for the mage binary

  -d <string> 
          run magefiles in the given directory (default ".")
  -debug  turn on debug messages
  -h      show description of a target
  -f      force recreation of compiled magefile
  -keep   keep intermediate mage files around after running
  -gocmd <string>
          use the given go binary to compile the output (default: "go")
  -t <string>
          timeout in duration parsable format (e.g. 5m30s)
  -v      show verbose output when running mage targets


Makefiles are hard to read and hard to write. Mostly because makefiles are essentially fancy bash scripts with significant white space and additional make-related syntax.

Mage lets you have multiple magefiles, name your magefiles whatever you want, and they’re easy to customize for multiple operating systems. Mage has no dependencies (aside from go) and runs just fine on all major operating systems, whereas make generally uses bash which is not well supported on Windows. Go is superior to bash for any non-trivial task involving branching, looping, anything that’s not just straight line execution of commands. And if your project is written in Go, why introduce another language as idiosyncratic as bash? Why not use the language your contributors are already comfortable with?

Compiling a static binary

If your tasks are not related to compiling Go code, it can be useful to compile a binary which has the mage execution runtime and the tasks compiled in such that it can be run on another machine without requiring installation of dependencies. To do so, pass the output path to the compile flag. like this:

$ mage -compile ./static-output


Projects that build with Mage

Hugo Gnorm