Before You Start (OS X Edition)

Please read EVERYTHING on this page before proceeding to use Ardour. Every single sentence here contains vitally important information. If you skip any part of it, and the actions implied, Ardour may fail to start, may crash after starting, or may fail in other ways.

How To Install

If you downloaded source code, these instructions are not for you. See the building instructions instead.

You should have been able to download the .dmg file, and your browser should have opened it up in a Finder window that contains the striking red Ardour logo on your desktop.

You can now drag the icon to somewhere on your hard drive, and then click that location to start Ardour.

How To Uninstall

To uninstall Ardour, just drag the icon/folder to the trash. For a complete uninstall, also remove the folder $HOME/Library/Preferences/Ardour which contains your preferences and settings for the program.

You need to know JACK

Ardour requires that you have JACK (the JACK Audio Connection Kit) installed on your system (you might be wondering just what on earth JACK is). The simplest way to do this is to visit the JackOSX website and install the package from there. Make sure you have the latest version installed (at least 0.89 as of this writing).

Note that you are generally not required to have JACK running when you start Ardour. Later, if you need access to the kinds of control that applications like JackPilot (part of JackOSX) offer, you can choose to have it running before starting Ardour. In general, this only matters if you want to connect other CoreAudio applications to Ardour.

System Update

You must have applied all system updates. Please don't report crashes of Ardour without making sure you've done this step.

Ensure you have a duplex audio device OR understand how to use a JACK control application

If you want to use Ardour to start JACK (used for all audio I/O), and you plan to use the builtin audio interface of your Mac (the one inside the box), you should read this page.

If you are using a different audio interface or are comfortable using JackPilot or other JACK control applications to configure and start JACK, then you don't need to worry about this.

Your Mouse/Trackpad

Ardour has been written with the assumption that you have (at least) a 2 button mouse available. There is a lot of useful functionality built into context menus that appear when you right-click on most objects.

If you are using an Apple laptop that appears to have only a single button, you should use Apple icon → System Preferences → Keyboard & Mouse →Trackpad to set the touchpad into "two-finger tap = right click" mode. Then you can get access to the context menus and more by just tapping with two fingers instead of one.

Note that you will find Ardour (and other digital audio workstations) even easier to use if you spend a little money on a full 3 button USB mouse with a mousewheel. They are cheap, easy to use and will all work with your MacBook.

Background: lots of people think that ctrl-click is always the way to get right-click operation on OS X. Its not. This is simply a per-application convention that many apps (but not all) have used. ctrl-click does not send the program something that looks like a right-click, it sends it a normal click with the additional information that the ctrl key is pressed. Some apps have used this as the signal to do some of the same things that right-click is associated with. Ardour has its own independent uses for ctrl-click, so we require to you configure your system to send a genuine right-click in order to see context menus and more.

Consider Cmd-Scroll

you may want to visit the System Preferences dialog, and choose Keyboard/Mouse to disable the default mapping of cmd-Scroll. OS X ships with this bound to "zoom screen", which might be useful for some users, but probably not audio-focused ones. Ardour uses cmd-Scroll for zooming itself, and you may find it very useful to have this available.

What To Do When It Doesn't Work!

Please see our page on how to report a bug. BUT before you do, please keep the following two extra pieces of information in mind:

  • If you are having problems starting Ardour, is a good idea to open the Console (Applications → Utilities → Console). That way, error output and other information from startup will be visible.

    To use the Console effectively, press its "Clear" button before starting Ardour. That way, the contents of the console right after Ardour starts and fails will all be relevant. You will be able to attach them to a bug report, or include them in email, or pastebin them during IRC (realtime chat) interaction.

  • Do not disable the system Crash Logger. This way you can collect useful information if Ardour is crashing. We will want to see that information in any bug report you might file.

Finally, please do come and talk to us on our IRC channel. You may be used to online forums as a place to get help, but in our world, we prefer to do things in real time rather than go back and forth on a very delayed communication channel. It is harder for us to support our OS X users because they generally do not build Ardour from source, but we can still talk you through many common problems in a few minutes online. This is preferable for us, and we think its probably better for you too.

Slow Startup

The very first time you run Ardour, it will take roughly 2 to 3 times as long to get started on a session as it will subsequently. This is because the user interface code has to build a catalog of the system fonts, something which only happens once. Ardour will post a warning message about this, but we want to warn you ahead of time about this alarming delay.

If you have a lot AU plugins, Ardour will also do a 1-time scan of them to determine some basic information about each one. This can take a while, but will not happen again unless you update a plugin.