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Prepare Mac OS X for build VLC

Compiling VLC media player on Mac OS X is different from normal linux compiling and OS X compiling. We do not use Xcode, but a simple ./configure and then make isn't enough either. The instructions below are always for the currently unstable, non-released code. If you compile from Git then please remember that this code can often be in an unstable state so don't put any of the non-released test binaries or git-compiles on software sites or on user-forums. We have had bad experiences with this before and we do not appreciate it.

Quick Steps on Mac OS X.5

Configure the environment:

 $ export CC=/Developer/usr/bin/llvm-gcc-4.2
 $ export CXX=/Developer/usr/bin/llvm-g++-4.2
 $ export OBJC=/Developer/usr/bin/llvm-gcc-4.2
 $ export CFLAGS="-arch i386" 
 $ export CXXFLAGS="-arch i386" 
 $ export LDFLAGS="-arch i386" 
 $ export OBJCFLAGS="-arch i386"

Download the sources from repository:

 $ git clone git://

Build needed additional libs:

 $ cd vlc/extras/contrib
 $ ./bootstrap
 $ make

Build VLC:

 $ cd ../..
 $ ./bootstrap
 $ ./configure --enable-debug  
 $ make

Add needed libs to

$ make

Read next section for more details.


Please follow these steps for compiling:

Set the development environment

Install the Mac OS X Developer Tools from the Developer Tools CD, or get them online.

You need at least Mac OS X 10.5 and Xcode 3.1.2 for compilation. Mac OS X 10.6 and its Xcode releases are also supported. Make sure that the LLVM GCC 4.2 compiler is installed.

Compiling with earlier releases of Mac OS X and/or Xcode will not work.

Additionally, you may need to install Subversion (SVN) and more importantly Git on your Mac.

Get the source

Download the VLC media player source code (using Git) as described on the "Get the source" page or get a recent source tarball. Note that the 3rd party libraries will probably break a few months after the release's publication.

Build external libs

We now need to build the 3rd party libs. For that, you will need to:

  • cd to the source directory with your Terminal application.
  • If you have fink, then you will need to disable it. VLC media player has it's own form of Fink (in the extras/contrib subdir) and it can conflict with Fink. We use this system to generate a reliable, consistent and known amount of packages that VLC media player requires.

To disable Fink comment the line: #source /sw/bin/init.csh in your .cshrc file or . /sw/bin/init.csh in your .bashrc file in your home-directory.

  • First fetch the contribs. Those are external libraries needed by VLC.
 $ cd extras/contrib
 $ ./bootstrap
 $ make

The last command will download prebuilt binary contrib you can happily use to build VLC wth -- only if you're using git master branch or the bugfix branch for 0.9 / 1.0. You will only have to do this once. (You can do it again if required libraries are added or updated by the team.)

If you're trying to debug these libraries or want to create a new package, you need to execute make src

Note that the 10.5 SDK is used by default. If you encounter problems, make sure that the script correctly used Apple's llvm-gcc-4.2 compiler and your Xcode installation is up-to-date.

Prepare the VLC build

Now we return to VLC itself. Go back to the top level VLC source directory.

 $ cd ../.. 
 $ ./bootstrap 

This will create configure and Makefiles for VLC media player (snapshots and releases already include this).

Setup the correct compiler

Current revisions of VLC need to be compiled using Apple's llvm-gcc-4.2 compiler in its latest version. In case of failures, make sure that the latest version of Xcode is installed. To use this compiler, you need to export the respective variables. In a Bourne Shell, type this (if Xcode is installed to its default location; bash is the default shell on OS X):

 $ export CC=/Developer/usr/bin/llvm-gcc-4.2
 $ export CXX=/Developer/usr/bin/llvm-g++-4.2
 $ export OBJC=/Developer/usr/bin/llvm-gcc-4.2

If you are using a C-Shell, you need to use the setenv command of course.

Configure the VLC build

The next step is to configure, in the top level VLC source directory.

In current revisions, you can simply run

 $ ./configure --enable-debug

to get VLC in its default configuration. If do not want to use VLC's default configuration for Mac, be sure to add --disable-macosx-defaults to your custom set. Using --disable-nls will save you a lot of time, if you don't care about localised interfaces.

When compiling earlier revisions or the 0.8.6 branch, you need to give a wide variety of configure flags to achieve a useful build. We used to use this set: ./configure --enable-debug --disable-x11 --disable-xvideo --disable-glx --enable-sdl --enable-mad --enable-libdvbpsi --enable-a52 --disable-dvdplay --enable-dvdnav --enable-dvdread --enable-ffmpeg --enable-faad --enable-flac --enable-vorbis --enable-speex --enable-theora --enable-ogg --enable-shout --enable-cddb --disable-cddax --enable-vcdx --disable-skins --disable-skins2 --disable-wxwidgets --enable-freetype --enable-fribidi --enable-caca --enable-live555 --enable-dca --enable-goom --enable-modplug --enable-gnutls --enable-daap --enable-ncurses --enable-libtwolame --enable-x264 --enable-png --enable-realrtsp --enable-lua --disable-libtool Have a look at for our current default configuration.

You can add --with-mozilla-sdk-path=./extras/contrib/gecko-sdk --enable-mozilla to the configure-line to enable the compilation of VLC's Safari/Firefox plugin.

Build VLC

After configure is finished, we can finally build VLC media player. A simple make will do the trick. If you want to use the resulting application package on a different Mac or a different account on the same Mac, run

 $ make
 $ make

afterwards. Use the resulting for these purposes.

If you want a disk-image, type

 $ make package-macosx

(respectively make package-macosx-plugin for the Safari/Mozilla plugin).

What's wrong, if I don't succeed?

Starting with Leopard, Xcode may be installed to a custom location on the administrator's choice. While this is non-problematic for ordinary Xcode projects, VLC needs a little help. You have to place extra symbolic links in /Developer pointing to your custom location for these folders:

usr, Headers, Private, SDKs, Tools, Makefiles

You can easily create these links by executing the following command for each folder (whereas theFolder is one of these six):

ln -s /full/path/to/Developer/theFolder /Developer/theFolder

Additionally, make always sure that you are using the latest version of Xcode. Otherwise, VLC's compilation or behaviour at runtime won't be the way you want it to be.

What about 64-bit?

Both the 1.0-bugfix branch and the master branch can be compiled in 64-bit mode on OS X, but it is considered experimental. This is only tested for x86_64, but PPC64 should also work. Precompiled contribs are usually available for x86_64. To see how to compile VLC this way, check the documentation of your GCC vendor, as there are known differences within the supported versions of Mac OS X, but you may try:

After running bootstrap in extras/contrib: Replace the first line of config.mak to ARCH=x86_64 from ARCH=i386. Running make after only this change should cause the precompiled x86_64 contrib to be downloaded and extracted. (If you're compiling your own contrib, you should edit CFLAGS_TUNING and EXTRA_LDFLAGS to use x86_64, and you may also want to change CC and CXX to use llvm versions.)

Running configure: Do something like ./configure CFLAGS="-arch x86_64" CXXFLAGS="-arch x86_64" LDFLAGS="-arch x86_64" OBJCFLAGS="-arch x86_64" --build=x86_64-apple-darwin9.7.0 instead. Not all these flags may be necessary.

Snow Leopard

A series of problem affect the build under Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard / darwin 10), these include:

32-bit builds

The compiler now tries to build for the x86_64 arch by default, if you want to make a 32-bit build of VLC, you have to change the configure, similarly to what shown above: ./configure CFLAGS="-arch i386" CXXFLAGS="-arch i386" LDFLAGS="-arch i386" OBJCFLAGS="-arch i386"


The /usr/lib/ file has been removed, but the other .la files in contrib still reference it; the quickest way to fix this is rm extras/contrib/lib/*.la (this should lead no negative consequences because OSX's dylib already provide dependency tracking).


Written by Jean-Alexis Montignies, Felix Paul Kühne and Derk-Jan Hartman, for the VideoLAN Team. Adapted to the Wiki by Jean-Baptiste Kempf.