macOS / Mac OS X

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Audacity is fully supported under macOS and Mac OS X. However, there are a number of quirks, and because of subtle differences between Mac and other platforms, you may discover bugs or issues that are specific to Mac. This page is solely for documenting Mac-specific behavior that does not occur on Windows or Unix/Linux systems.

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 like this:

  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, or from the desktop by right-clicking on it, then launch the Audacity application from the "Audacity" folder that you copied.
  4. You can, if you wish, drag a copy of the Audacity icon from the Applications folder to the application dock at the bottom of the Mac screen, where it will remain docked. You can then simply launch Audacity by clicking there

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.

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.
  • Download the stream, if its web address is known

For more details, see Recording Computer Playback on Mac.

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.

Using USB audio devices on Mac

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

Playing Note tracks - MIDI and Allegro playback

Note tracks containing MIDI data (or Allegro data) can now be played in Audacity. Loop Play and Play Cut Preview also work with Note tracks. But note that there will no use of the Playback meter while Note tracks are played.

In order to achieve MIDI playback on Mac you will need to install, and run, additional software, a software synthesizer

Please see this page in the Audacity Wiki for details: Enabling Note Track playback on Mac.

Audio Units issues

  • 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.