Docker compose stopped working

From one day to another, I started getting docker: ‘compose’ is not a docker command.

I’m running Docker Desktop and got compose through that.

This is on a Mac M1 running MacOS 13.3.1 and installed using the .dmg at Install Docker Desktop on Mac | Docker Documentation

‘which docker’ points to /usr/local/bin/docker

I re-installed Docker Desktop (put in bin and re-installed the .dmg) and now it reports these versions:

Engine: 24.0.2
Compose: v2.18.1
Credential Helper: v0.7.0
Kubernetes: v1.25.9

Any ideas on what might have happened and more important, any suggestions on how to finding and fixing the problem ?

I have seen multiple issues with permissions on macOS recently. We couldn’t find the original reason, but fixing the permissions helped. If you can’t access the docker folders or executable binaries, it won’t work. In your case the problem could have been with the /usr/local/lib/docker/cli-plugins folder where the docker plugins are like compose.

I have exactly this and docker compose does not work for me. No clue why and I am quite frustrated.

I’m on an Intel Mac running MacOS 13.4

Have you checked the folder I mentioned in my previous post?


That directory doesn’t exist (for me).

Is it possible that something happened during the installation and the files could not be created? Does /usr/local/lib/docker exist?

no, /usr/local/lib/docker does not exist.

/usr/local/bin/docker exists though with a date time of when I installed ‘Docker for Mac’.

It should. And what about $HOME/.docker/cli-plugins? Can you find that?

yes, ~/.docker/cli-plugins exists.

Does this command work?

~/.docker/cli-plugins/docker-compose --version

and this?

/Applications/ --version

If it does and you don’t want to reinstall Docker Desktop after completely deleting every related file, you could copy the targets of the symlinks in the existing cli-plugins folder to the expected path. For example:

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/lib/docker/cli-plugins

sudo cp /Applications/ /usr/local/lib/docker/cli-plugins/

then opening a new terminal and trying docker compose command again.

~/.docker/cli-plugins/docker-compose --version
zsh: no such file or directory: /Users/jameshenderson/.docker/cli-plugins/docker-compose

/Applications/ --version
Docker Compose version v2.18.1

I’ve installed twice, but admittedly, I did not uninstall first.

The copy command I suggested in my previous post could still work, but if you can delete Docker Desktop (after backing up everything you don’t want to lose) and install iit again, my video about uninstalling Docker Desktop on Mac helped some people already: Uninstalling Docker Desktop properly on macOS - YouTube

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I’ll try that - thanks so much for your help! :smile:

I think the problem may have been from my security software. I uninstalled/re-installed (with the security app ‘off’) and this time everything worked.