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Qt Designer screenshot on Windows

Qt Designer Download

Install Qt Designer on Windows or Mac.
Tiny download: Only 40MB!

Qt Designer screenshot on macOS

Many people want to use Qt Designer without having to download gigabytes of other software. Here are small, standalone installers of Qt Designer for Windows and Mac:

What is Qt Designer?

Qt Designer is a tool for quickly building graphical user interfaces with widgets from the Qt GUI framework. It gives you a simple drag-and-drop interface for laying out components such as buttons, text fields, combo boxes and more. Here is a screenshot of Qt Designer on Windows:

Qt Designer Screenshot on Windows

Qt Designer produces .ui files. This is a special XML-based format that stores your widgets as a tree. You can either load these files at runtime, or have them translated to a programming language such as C++ or Python.

Qt Designer and Python

Many people like to use Qt Designer together with Python because it is a very productive programming language. The easiest way to combine the two is via PyQt or PySide6. To install PyQt, simply enter the following on the command line:

python3 -m venv venv
source venv/bin/activate # or "call venv\Scripts\activate.bat" on Windows
python3 -m pip install PyQt6

(This assumes you have Python 3 installed.)

Suppose you have saved your file from Qt Designer as dialog.ui. Then you can create another file, say, with the following contents:

from PyQt6 import uic
from PyQt6.QtWidgets import QApplication

Form, Window = uic.loadUiType("dialog.ui")

app = QApplication([])
window = Window()
form = Form()

When you then invoke python on the command line, the GUI you created in Designer should open:

Qt Designer dialog screenshot on Windows

How you can create an installer

Once you've created an application with Qt Designer, you typically want to create an installer for it. On Windows, this is often an installation wizard in the form of an .exe:

fbs Windows installer

On macOS, .dmg archives are commonly used:

fbs Mac installer

We can use fbs to create such installers for applications based on Qt and Python. The free eddition of fbs supports Python 3.6 and PyQt5. Later versions require fbs Pro.

Once you've installed fbs, you can create an installer for the Python application from above as follows:

Run the command fbs startproject. This asks you a few questions about the name of your app etc. It creates the directory src/main/python. The command fbs run should now give you a quick preview of the empty application created by startproject.

Change from before to the following:

from PyQt6 import uic
from PyQt6.QtWidgets import QApplication

from fbs_runtime.application_context.PyQt6 import ApplicationContext

Form, Window = uic.loadUiType(appctxt.get_resource("dialog.ui"))

appctxt = ApplicationContext()

window = Window()
form = Form()

Save in src/main/python, overwriting the existing file there.

Create the directory src/main/resources/base. Move dialog.ui from above into it. When you now do fbs run, then you should again see the GUI you created in Designer.

Run the command fbs freeze. This turns your Python (and Designer) code into a standalone executable that can be copied to other computers.

Then execute fbs installer. On Windows, you need to install NSIS first and place it on your PATH. On Linux, you need fpm. But once you have these prerequisites, fbs will magically create your installer. Congratulations!

Where to learn more

If you want to learn more about combining Qt Designer with Python, you may be interested in my book:

It distills years of experience to quickly help you create better GUI applications. I'm humbled to say that even Phil Thompson, the creator of PyQt, read it and thinks it's "very good".

Qt Designer vs. Qt Creator

Qt Designer normally ships as a part of Qt Creator. This is Qt's official editor and lets you do a lot more than just graphically design user interfaces. It is a full-fledged and very powerful C++ IDE. This power comes at a price however: The download for Qt Creator is gigabytes in size!

Screenshot of Qt Creator's Setup saying there is not enough disk space.

This page was created for people who only need Qt Designer. The download links here contain minimal, self-contained installers of just Qt Designer that are orders of magnitude smaller. Here they are again:

Michael Herrmann

Michael has been working with Qt and Python since 2016, when he started fman, a cross-platform file manager. Frustrated with the difficulties of creating a desktop app, Michael open sourced fman's build system (fbs). It saves you months when creating Python Qt GUIs. Recently, Michael also wrote a popular book about these two technologies.