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QGIS Introduction: Getting Started

Why use QGIS?

QGIS is an open source option for GIS software.  There are many benefits to using QGIS including: 

  • ‚ÄčThe software is free.
  • QGIS is easy to learn if users are familiar with ArcGIS or with GIS concepts.

Help and Training

LinkedIn Learning: Learning QGIS
A 3-hour video tutorial introducing users to QGIS (Duke users only). Uses version 3.8.3.

QGIS Documentation
User Guides (online documentation), Training Manuals (tutorials), and A Gentle Introduction to GIS (overview of GIS principles and terminology)

QGIS Workshop
Tutorial from Harvard's Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA).  Pretty thorough, with lots of screenshots available through the dropdowns in the upper right, as well as many short videos (click the Intro Video Series button).

MMQGIS plugin package
Documentation on the useful plugins that come in this package. The package can be installed from the Plugins ... Manage and Install Plugins... menu in QGIS. Turning it on will add an MMQGIS menu to the interface.


Install QGIS on Windows

  1. Go to the QGIS Downloads webpage.
  2. Download and install the QGIS Standalone Installer for either the latest version or the latest long-term (most stable) release, either 64-bit or 32-bit.

Install QGIS on a Mac

  1. Go to the Mac OS X QGIS download page from Mac download should include what you need, but if it doesn't, alternative download pages are given below.
  2. You first may need to change your Mac Security Preferences to ‘Allow apps downloaded from: Anywhere’.  See the help page from UW-Madison.
  3. The installation order must be:
    1. GDAL Complete.pkg (GDAL 2.1 framework installed in /Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework)
      The GDAL dependency framework  can also be downloaded from Unix Compatibility Frameworks page.
    2. Numpy package (Python module installed in /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages)
      The Numpy module should be included with the GDAL download, but can also be downloaded from the Python Modules page.
    3. matplotlib package (Python module installed in /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages)
      The matplotlib module can also be downloaded from the Python Modules page.
    4. and finally the QGIS package (Application /Applications/
  4. Go to the Application tab and open QGIS.

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas's picture
Mark Thomas
233C Perkins Library

Sample Data

Intro to QGIS (Zip archive)

View upcoming Data and Visualization workshops at Perkins Library.

Please provide us with feedback on the form provided following the workshop.