User:BillWharrie/How to prevent Audio Unit and VST plug-ins crashing Audacity launch on Mac OS X

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If Audacity fails to launch, crashes on launch or takes a very long time to launch on Mac, you may have some incompatible VST or Audio Unit effects somewhere on your system.
The procedures outlined here will allow Audacity to launch in the face of incompatible VST and/or Audio Unit effects.
Advice is also given on how to track down incompatible effects.

Find and edit, or create, the "audacity.cfg" file

Go to <Your Home>/Library/Application Support/

On OSX 10.7 the Library folder is hidden by default. To get to the Library folder you can:
  • Hold the Option key while clicking the Go menu - "Library" will appear as an option in the menu
  • Choose Go > Go to folder... and type "~/Library" into the dialog.

If there is an audacity folder inside the Application Support folder, open the audacity folder.

If there is no audacity folder inside the Application Support folder, create one. Make sure it is all lower case.

If there is an audacity.cfg file inside the audacity folder:

1) Open it in TextEdit
2) Delete the contents of the file and replace it with:

NewPrefsInitialized=1

[AudioUnits]
Enable=0
GUI=0
[VST]
Enable=0
GUI=0
Rescan=0

3) Save the file without changing the extension.

If there is no audacity.cfg file inside the audacity folder:

1) Start TextEdit
2) Enter exactly this content into the new TextEdit document:

NewPrefsInitialized=1

[AudioUnits]
Enable=0
GUI=0
[VST]
Enable=0
GUI=0
Rescan=0

3) Save the file as "audacity.cfg" inside the audacity folder.

Start Audacity. It should launch without problem.

Note that this will disable all VST and Audio Unit effects within Audacity. If you want to track down exactly which effects are causing the problem so you can use all your other effects in Audacity, read the next sections.

Tracking down incompatible effects

Known incompatible effects

See the Release Notes for a list of effects known to be incompatible with Audacity on Mac.

Reading the Crash Log

Sometimes the crash report will give a clue as to which effect is causing the crash.

Choose Audacity > Preferences, go to the Effects tab, enable VST and Audio Unit Effects, and check "Rescan for VST effects next time Audacity starts". Quit and restart Audacity.

When the crash dialog appears, choose the option to view the crash report. You may see something like this:

Thread 0 Crashed:
0   ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore   0x93883de0 VolFSMount::endbulk(void*) + 14
1   ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore   0x93883d79 PBCloseIteratorSync + 109
2   ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore   0x93883d09 FSCloseIterator + 23
3   com.RPCX.PredatorFX.component    0x40b34798 uEditorEntry + 100706
4   com.RPCX.PredatorFX.component    0x40b0adbc 0x40ad9000 + 204220
5   com.RPCX.PredatorFX.component    0x40b0b167 APluginEntry + 73
6   ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore   0x938a4899 CallComponentDispatch + 29
7   ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore   0x938a4879 CallComponentOpen + 43
8   ...ple.CoreServices.CarbonCore   0x938a2f15 OpenAComponent + 449
9   Audacity                         0x000825f8 AudioUnitEffect::AudioUnitEffect(wxString, ComponentRecord*) + 104
10  Audacity                         0x00084dbc LoadAudioUnitsOfType(unsigned long) + 156

Note that line 10 says the Audacity is trying to load an Audio Unit effect. Lines 3, 4 and 5, although truncated, indicated that an effect called something like "PredatorFX" is causing the problem. In this case, find that effect on your system (see below for where effects are located), remove the offending effect and try again to start Audacity.

Determining if VST effects or Audio Unit effects are the problem

1) Choose Audacity > Preferences, go to the Effects tab, enable VST Effects, and check "Rescan for VST effects next time Audacity starts".
2) Quit and re-start Audacity
3a) If Audacity crashes then you have an incompatible VST effect.

  • Edit or create the audacity.cfg file as detailed above (this is the only way to turn off VST effects, since we can't do it inside of Audacity since Audacity won't launch).
  • Go to the next section to find the exact VST effects that are causing the problem.

3b) If Audacity starts OK, Click on Audacity > Preferences, go to the Effects tab, enable Audio Unit Effects. Quit and re-start Audacity, then go to step 4.
4) If Audacity crashes then you have an incompatible Audio Unit effect.

  • Go to the next section to determine exactly which Audio Unit effects are causing the problem.

Determining exactly which VST or Audio Unit effects are causing the problem

VST effects can be stored in the following locations:

  • <Your Home>/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST
  • /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST

They may also be in the plug-ins folder in the same folder as the Audacity application. This is usually:

  • /Applications/Audacity/plug-ins

Audio Unit effects can be stored in the following locations:

  • <Your Home>/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components
  • /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components
If you cannot see the Library folder inside you home folder, see the note above about how to get to it.
If you cannot see the Library folder inside you hard disk, click on Go > Go to folder... then type "/Library" in the dialog

1) Remove all the VST and Audio Unit effects from the above locations. Move them to a convenient location, such as the Desktop, and put them in folders named so you will know where they came from.
2) Start Audacity
3) Choose Audacity > Preferences, go to the Effects tab, and enable VST and Audio Unit Effects, and check "Rescan for VST effects next time Audacity starts".
4) Quit Audacity
5) Move one VST or Audio Units effect back where it came from.
6) Start Audacity.
7a) If Audacity starts OK, then that effects is OK. In that case:

  • If you are testing a VST effect, click on Audacity > Preferences, go to the Effects tab and check "Rescan for VST effects next time Audacity starts".
  • Quit Audacity and return to step 5.

7b) If Audacity does not start or crashes, the effect is not OK. In that case:

  • Move that effect back out of the system or Audacity plug-ins folder.
  • Return to step 5
  • If Audacity starts OK, the effect you just moved out of the folder was not OK. Move it to a another folder reserved for incompatible effects.
  • If Audacity does not start or crashes, the effect you just moved out of the folder was not causing the problem. Return to step 6

Repeat the above for Audio Unit effects.