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Free Docker Desktop Alternative for Mac

Sharing one of the free Docker Desktop alternatives for Mac.

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

As of 31 January 2022, the grace period for using Docker Desktop has ended. Companies with more than 250 employees OR more than $10 million USD in annual revenue now require a paid subscription to use Docker Desktop. Read the blog or visit their FAQ to learn more about the updates.

If you are looking for an alternative, you may want to consider trying Colima, container runtimes on macOS (and Linux) with minimal setup.


  • Intel and M1 Macs support
  • Simple CLI interface
  • Docker and Containers support
  • Port Forwarding
  • Volume mounts
  • Kubernetes

How to uninstall Docker Desktop?

To uninstall Docker Desktop from your Mac:

  1. From the Docker menu, select Troubleshoot and then select Uninstall
  2. Click Uninstall to confirm your selection

Note: Uninstalling Docker Desktop destroys Docker containers, images, volumes, and other Docker related data local to the machine, and removes the files generated by the application. Refer to the back up and restore data section to learn how to preserve important data before uninstalling.

If somehow you need to uninstall docker entirely from your Mac, you may follow the step from this stackoverflow post.

How to install Colima?

Docker client is required for Docker runtime, you will need to install yourself if you do not have.

## to install docker
brew install docker

## to install docker-compose
brew install docker-compose

## to install kubectl
brew install kubectl

Colima is available on Homebrew and Nix. Check here for other installation options.

# to install using Homebrew
brew install colima

# to install using Nix
nix-env -iA nixpkgs.colima

Usage for Colima

To start Colima with defaults,

colima start

After the Colima has started successfully, you may test it with,

docker ps

As underlying Colima is using Lima, you may check the status of Colima by using the following command,

limactl list
Screenshot of limactl list

To stop Colima,

colima stop

To start Colima with kubernetes,

colima start --with-kubernetes

The default VM created by Colima has 2 CPUs, 2GiB memory and 60GiB storage.

We could customize the VM by passing cpu, memory and disk to colima start. If VM is already created, stop the VM and apply the flags when starting it.

## create VM with 1CPU, 2GiB memory and 10GiB storage
colima start --cpu 1 --memory 2 --disk 10
## modify an existing VM to 4CPUs and 8GiB memory
colima stop
colima start --cpu 4 --memory 8

Note: Only cpu and memory can be changed at anytime. Disk size cannot be changed after the VM is created.



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Wei Kang

Wei Kang

Once a programmer, always a programmer