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.


From GitHub source (any OS)

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).

git clone
cd mage
go run bootstrap.go


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 information 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.

From GitHub releases (any OS)

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

With Homebrew (MacOS)

brew install mage

See mage homebrew formula.

With MacPorts (MacOS)

sudo port install mage

See port page

With Scoop (Windows)

scoop install mage

See scoop.

Using asdf

The asdf version manager is a tool for installing release binaries from Github. With asdf installed, the asdf plugin for mage can be used to install any released version of mage.

asdf plugin add mage
asdf install mage latest
asdf global mage latest

Example Magefile

//go:build mage

package main

import (

// Runs go mod download and then installs the binary.
func Build() error {
    if err := sh.Run("go", "mod", "download"); err != nil {
        return err
    return sh.Run("go", "install", "./...")

Run the above Build target by simply running mage build in the same directory as the magefile.

Magefiles directory

If you create your Magefile or files within a directory named magefiles And there is no Magefile in your current directory, mage will default to the directory as the source for your targets while keeping the current directory as working one.

The result is the equivalent of running mage -d magefiles -w .



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
  -h        show this help
  -init     create a starting template if no mage files exist
  -l        list mage targets in this directory
  -version  show version info for the mage binary

  -d <string> 
            directory to read magefiles from (default ".")
  -debug    turn on debug messages
  -f        force recreation of compiled magefile
  -goarch   sets the GOARCH for the binary created by -compile (default: current arch)
  -gocmd <string>
            use the given go binary to compile the output (default: "go")
  -goos     sets the GOOS for the binary created by -compile (default: current OS)
  -h        show description of a target
  -keep     keep intermediate mage files around after running
  -t <string>
            timeout in duration parsable format (e.g. 5m30s)
  -v        show verbose output when running mage targets
  -w <string>
            working directory where magefiles will run (default -d value)


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?


Projects that build with Mage

Hugo Gnorm