Mac OS X / macOS

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Gale 29Apr14: ToDo-1 As it stands, this page is actually very useful for users of legacy Audacity on Mac OS X, but needs a complete rewrite for current Audacity.
Audacity is fully supported under Mac OS X. However, there are a number of quirks, and because of subtle differences between Mac OS X and other platforms, you may discover bugs or issues that are specific to Mac OS X. This page is solely for documenting OS X-specific behavior that does not occur on Windows or Unix/Linux systems.
If you are looking to request a new feature for Audacity, please go to our Feature Requests page.
 
Related article(s):
This page is intended as a reference point only. It is not constantly monitored by the Audacity team and is thus not meant as a direct method for obtaining technical support.

Before adding a report here, please:

  • Check the existing reports below thoroughly, plus our extensive online help resources as listed on our Reporting Bugs page, to see if your issue is already known.
  • Only add an issue on this page if you're sure it is something specific to Macs only, you're sure of your facts, and that there is not some other explanation for the problem. In all other cases, please follow the instructions on Reporting Bugs to get help and/or give us a useful bug report that we can follow up.


Contents

OS X-specific issues

OS X has a very different audio hardware interface to most other operating systems. As a result, there may be no (or greyed out) Mixer Toolbar, or only one audio recording source available to Audacity, which will be identified as "Default Source". You will need to click on the Mac hard disk, then on Applications > Utilities > Audio-MIDI Setup and select your required recording source (e.g. Line In) in the Audio Input section so that it becomes the source that Audacity will use. This is how Audio-MIDI Setup looks in OS X 10.4:

AudioMidi.png

If you are on OS X 10.6 or higher and are using the current Audacity version, you can select audio devices in Audacity's Device Toolbar or in the "Recording Device" dropdown in the Devices pane of Preferences.

For help configuring USB audio devices on Mac, see Mac and USB input devices.

Active issues

Many differences between the OS X and other platforms relate to the audio platform API - in the case of Mac OS X, this API is called Core Audio.

Audacity should not be run inside the DMG image

You should not run Audacity from within the DMG image it's distributed in and must not separate the Audacity application from the folder it came in. Otherwise:

  • You won't be able to save or export files without changing the directory you are saving or exporting to
  • You will be warned that "Critical Nyquist files cannot be found" and will not be able to use Audacity's optional plug-ins.

Always install Audacity thus:

  1. Double-click the downloaded DMG to mount it.
  2. Drag the "Audacity" folder from the newly mounted DMG to the "Applications" icon underneath "Places" on the left of Finder. Alternatively you can instead copy the "Audacity" folder to any other location of your choosing.
    Warning icon Do not double-click the "Audacity" folder to open it and drag only the Audacity icon to /Applications. The Audacity application must be kept inside the Audacity folder at all times.
  3. Eject the DMG in the "Devices" section on the left of Finder, then launch the Audacity application from the "Audacity" folder that you copied.

Loss of sound after running Audacity

If you have lost sound on your system after connecting headphones for an Audacity session then removing them, try connecting your headphones again then gently manipulate the headphones plug up/down and left/right so as to bend back the internal component to its correct position. Do this several times if necessary so that the internal switch for the headphones is fully released.

Playthrough

Although Apple Audio MIDI Setup has a "Thru" checkbox for playing audio that is being recorded, this is usually grayed out. Recording playthrough has in fact been disabled since the early days of OS X, and it is left to applications to provide this. In Audacity, try either "hardware playthrough" or "software playthrough" on the Recording tab of Preferences. Hardware playthrough doesn't always work, but has no delay and does not load the CPU. You can also obtain software playthrough using a free application called LineIn. Software playthrough will have delay and some CPU load.

No built-in streaming audio recording

Macs have no ability to record streaming as it plays on the built-in sound device as can be done on Windows and Linux (if the sound device has that capability). It is possible to record streaming audio from the built-in microphone, but this a very lossy method that also picks up all ambient noise. Alternatives:

  • Join the line-out to line-in, then recording from the built-in input set to line-in
  • Capture the stream digitally with applications other than Audacity, before it reaches the soundcard (using Soundflower to do this gives Audacity a direct way to record the captured stream)
  • Download the stream, if its web address is known

For more details, see the Mac section of Recording audio playing on the computer.

Support and setup for external audio devices

Some external audio devices (for example, some USB microphones or headets and most USB or Firewire input/output interfaces) won't work correctly in Audacity unless the device is set up in /Applications/Audio MIDI Setup, as well as doing so in Audacity.

  1. If you connected your external device while Audacity was open, click Audacity > Quit Audacity and restart it, so that Audacity can see the device
  2. In Audacity, select the device at Audacity > Preferences: Devices in the "Recording Device" box (and in the "Playback Device" box if appropriate) (these preferences are under "Audio I/O" in earlier Betas)
  3. On the same tab, choose the number of "Recording Channels" required
  4. Open the Finder > Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup:
    Apple Audio-MIDI Setup on OS X 10.5
  5. Click the Audio Devices tab and make sure on the left-hand (input) side that your device is selected in the "Default Input" and "Properties For" boxes - in the image above our device is called "USB Audio Codec"
  6. Match the input sample rate and channel mode in Audio MIDI Setup in all places - with your Audacity settings, and with any settings on the device or in its control software: for example, if the Audacity Project Rate at bottom left is 44100 Hz and you're recording in stereo, set the Audio MIDI input "Format" boxes to "44100.0 Hz" and "2 ch-16 bit"
  7. If you are playing back to the device, go to the right-hand (output) side of Audio MIDI Setup, set the device as Default Output and System Output, and similarly match the settings in the "Format" boxes to your settings in Audacity and in the device

In more advanced interface devices with 24-bit capability, it may also be necessary to explicitly match the Audacity "Default Sample Format" at Audacity > Preferences: Quality tab with both the Audio MIDI format settings and with the bit depth setting in the device.

Audio Units issues

  • AU GraphicEQ cannot be resized in use. See the Audio Units page for a workaround.
  • AU MatrixReverb cannot be used on a mono track. See the Audio Units page for a workaround.
  • Some older third-party AU plug-ins can be very slow to load on launch or unload on exit, or may completely hang Audacity on launch. See the Audio Units page for a workaround.
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