MythTV on Mac OS X

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New users, before attempting to install MythTV for the first time, please familiarize yourself with the frontend/backend distinction.

For MythTV on Mac OS X on Intel machines, see Myth on Mac x86. For a working IR remote, see Keyspan Express Remote.

Pre-built Downloads


Nigel Pearson can also provide a 0.15 or 0.17 binary, if you really need one.

svn (nightly builds)

Building MythFrontend yourself


This guide is meant for those who would like to try out the latest MythTV code on Mac OS X, but are having trouble setting up the development environment. Many folks have had trouble figuring out which dependencies and versions are necessary, so this will help you get to a known working configuration. If you like to copy-and-paste commands, you'll love this guide.

Important.png Note: this is a frontend only, not a complete MythTV installation. To use the OS X version, it may be easier to have a Linux machine running a recent SVN version of MythTV to act as a backend. If you've never installed MythTV, you should start with the Linux version, and only look at the OS X version once everything's working properly there.

Anyways, the release notes for MythTV 0.20 state: "Added beginnings of firewire capture support for MacOS"

If you just want to watch TV on your Mac, and you aren't planning to be a developer, you're better off using a prebuilt binary.

These instructions also assume that you're doing a completely clean reinstallation on your machine. If you don't start from scratch, some of the instructions may not be correct for your setup. If you're really having problems, back up your data and try these instructions again, doing a clean re-install of OS X as directed below.

Install OS X

The first step is to get a computer running Mac OS X. To watch TV at acceptable speeds, you'll want at least an 800 MHz G4 or better. If you want to watch HDTV, you'll have to wait for future code optimizations.

If you're starting from scratch, install Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) or 10.4 (Tiger) on your future Myth box. Do a clean installation, not an upgrade -- I recommend the "Erase and Install" option to be sure you won't have problems from earlier data on your drive. When you're offered the chance to Customize the installation, turn off all the options except "BSD Subsystem". (The option "Essential System Software" cannot be turned off, so you will have two checked items total.)

After turning off those unnecessary options, continue with the installation and restart. Go through the setup and registration screens as normal. Once you reach the Finder, run Software Update and get any OS updates. At the time of this writing, the latest OS version is 10.3.9 / 10.4.9. Apply the updates and restart when directed by Software Update.

Not all software updates can be installed in one step, so you should run Software Update again after installing updates. QuickTime is used for MythTV video, so it is recommended to update that. Install any updates and restart; keep repeating this pattern until no updates remain.

Install OS X Developer Tools

You've got the latest and greatest OS, but the tools for compiling software are installed separately. Visit the Apple Developer Connection website and log in. If you don't have an ADC account, you can create a free one. This gives you access to Apple developer tools, prerelease software, and other useful items.

Once you've logged in, click on "Download Software" and then "Developer Tools". Download the latest "Xcode Tools" software. Install the software by opening "Xcode Tools.mpkg" from the "Xcode Tools" disk image. You can do an Easy Install, the defaults are fine for building MythTV.

Set up your environment

That's it for the graphical Mac stuff. From here on out, we'll be working in Terminal. If you're a Unix geek, things should look a lot more familiar. If you aren't comfortable with Terminal, this probably isn't the best place to start; I suggest you learn a bit more about Unix before attempting to go further.

From a new Terminal window, start by setting up some useful environment variables in your profile. Create a .bash_profile in your favorite text editor:

# vi .bash_profile

Add the following to the new file and save it:

Script.png .bash_profile

export SRCDIR=$HOME/src
export QTDIR=$SRCDIR/qt-mac-free-3.3.3
export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib:$QTDIR/lib
export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/bin:$QTDIR/bin

Next, load these variables into your current session, and create SRCDIR where you'll be downloading and compiling.

. .bash_profile
mkdir $SRCDIR

Optional: if you'd like to be able to run mythfrontend by double-clicking its icon from the Dock or the Finder, you'll have to set the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable for the graphical environment. (Your .bash_profile</nowiki> only affects what you do in Terminal.) To enable this, create the file

Script.png ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist

mkdir ~/.MacOSX
vi ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist
Add the following to the new file:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "[[Property List]]-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">

Replace username above with your user name. Note that we set the same directories as in the .bash_profile, except that the other environment variables have been expanded into full paths.

Free Type

Free Type is the first of several dependencies you will have to install for MythTV. First download and unpack the source code:
curl | tar -xz
cd freetype-2.1.10
Next, configure and make the source. These instructions use shared libraries for building MythTV, and include flags to turn on prebinding (a run-time optimization that launches programs faster), so they differ from the generic defaults provided by the project's install instructions. If you follow the commands here exactly, you should be OK.
./configure --disable-static
make LDFLAGS="-no-undefined -Wl,-prebind,-seg1addr,0xC0000000 -lz"
sudo make install

When sudo asks for a password, enter your Mac login password. You'll get used to doing this a lot over the course of this guide.

Free Type is installed, so we return to SRCDIR in preparation for the next step.
cd ..

Freetype can also be installed via Fink or Portage OS X. See Fink And Portage for more information.


The process here is the same as Free Type, so I won't repeat the same explanations. Just use these commands:
curl | tar -xz
cd lame-3.97
./configure --disable-static --disable-frontend
make LDFLAGS="-no-undefined -Wl,-prebind,-seg1addr,0xC1000000"
sudo make install
cd ..

LAME can also be installed via Fink or Portage OS X. See Fink And Portage for more information.


Important.png Note: MySQL removes older versions of their software from their servers after a while. If mysql-4.1.22.tar.gz disappears, go to the server here and find the latest mysql-4.1.XX.tar.gz. Change the version number in the instructions below and mysql should build fine.

Again, there's nothing too complicated. You only need the client library from MySQL, so these commands turn off a lot of the parts that the installation offers.
curl | tar -zx
cd mysql-4.1.22
./configure --disable-static --without-debug \
  --without-server --without-geometry \
  --without-extra-tools --without-docs \
  --without-man --without-bench
make LDFLAGS="-no-undefined -Wl,-prebind,-seg1addr,0xC2000000"
sudo make install
cd ..


(Qt is an application framework from Trolltech while QuickTime is a media suite from Apple)

Installing Qt is a bit more complicated, so we'll take this one more slowly. First get the source code:
curl | tar -xz
cd qt-mac-free-3.3.3

Make sure you update Quicktime completely, including the Quicktime SDK, using Software Update.

Next, configure the installation. Qt takes a long time to build, so we turn off everything that's not absolutely necessary.

Important.png Note: the command below turns off all window styles except "Windows"; this style looks best with MythTV, in my opinion, so I don't build the others. You may want to remove some of the -no-style-blah flags and try out other styles on your system.

./configure -system-zlib -fast -qt-sql-mysql \
  -no-style-cde -no-style-compact -no-style-mac \
  -no-style-motif -no-style-motifplus -no-style-platinum \
  -no-style-sgi -thread -no-ipv6 -qt-imgfmt-png \
  -qt-imgfmt-jpeg -no-imgfmt-mng -no-tablet \
  -I/usr/local/include/mysql \

The configure step takes a while, but don't go get that cup of coffee right away; you will have to accept the GNU Gneral Public License before it gets going. Type yes when it prompts you, then you can take a break.

The make process requires a bit of explanation. Qt needs the -single-module< flag to build correctly with our MySQL installation; the first line adds this to the compile instructions. We only build the sub-src target, as we only need the Qt library; this skips the documentation, examples, and a hundred other things that aren't necessary for working with MythTV.
echo 'QMAKE_LFLAGS_SHLIB += -single_module' >> src/
make sub-src

We're now finished with Qt, and with all of the dependencies in fact.

cd ..

Alternatively to compiling Qt yourself, you can grab a precompiled package from

Backend Setup

Make sure you set your backend to listen on some other IP address than (which is the default). Run

on your backend mythtv installation and put your not- IP adress in the database parameters; 192.168.1.x perhaps, whatever your network interface runs on and more importantly what IP address you set mysql to listen on.

You'll also need to allow connections to the mySQL server on your backend machine over your network.

 mysql> grant all on mythconverg.* to mythtv@"10.0.1.%" identified by "mythtv";


NOTE: If you decide to run ./configure and not use the, you MUST use the --disable-distcc flag or else your configure step will fail with some endianness check message.

Finally, we're ready for MythTV itself. Download the main MythTV source:
svn co
Now we configure and make MythTV itself. Assuming that nothing is broken in the SVN tree (which happens sometimes for the Mac build), the defaults should work fine:
cd mythtv
sudo ./configure
sudo make install

If you look at your config.err file and see that the endian test failed, just use the script in the contrib directory to build MythTV.

Presuming you're in the mythtv directory already, simply type:
cd contrib

It may still fail using GCC 4.x but should work if you change your GCC modules to 3.3.3-7. It will take a while to complete. Basically, it re-installs everything you have installed to this point.
source: mythtv-user list

If you're missing qmake, return to the qt-mac-free-3.3.5 directory from the previous installation and install it from there:

cd ../qt-mac-free-3.3.5
cd qmake
sudo make install
You must launch the frontend from the command line, as launching it through the Finder will not work properly (unless you completed the Optional section of step 3). Run the frontend with this command:

You'll be prompted for the MySQL connection parameters when it starts up. Enter the hostname for your Linux backend, and change any of the other parameters as appropriate. (This part is not Mac-specific and depends on your backend setup.) You should see the main menu for the frontend after it successfully connects to the MySQL server.

When you update to the latest CVS, you should do a clean rebuild to prevent problems:
make distclean
cvs -z6 update -dP
sudo make install

Tips and Tricks

In the setup screens, explore the "TV Settings" -> "Playback" options. You'll find two pages of Mac-specific settings there. If your machine isn't fast enough, you can choose to drop frames here. If you have cycles to spare, you'll find fun settings like video in the Dock, on the Desktop, or in a floating (and optionally translucent) window.

Apple Remote: Standard keys work as expected: Directional keys generate arrow keys, Play/Pause: Enter, Menu: Escape. Holding down keys will generate alternate inputs: Hold Play/Pause: P (play/pause playback), Hold Menu: M (Menu in playback), Hold Left/Right: Home/End

Some of the MythTV plugins, like mythmusic, do not work in OS X. Mythvideo and mythweather are known to work at this time. To use the plugins, you have to compile and install them separately. Plugins are frontend features, installing them on the backend will not enable them on your frontend OS X box.

If you want to try controlling MythTV via Bluetooth, Brad came up with a 'Salling Clicker' action

If you want to try controlling MythTV from another Mac (perhaps by a PowerBook from the couch), Generally Helpful Software has released an early beta of a remote control application, Remote Remote GH for MythTV

Another Mac OS X network remote control is available at

There is also an application for Mac OS X called 'MythGrowl' that generates Growl notifications when your MythTV backend starts or finishes a recording. Not part of Mythfrontend but worth a mention. It can be downloaded at

To improve playback performance try new 'Use libmpeg2' setting (on the first page of Setup, Settings, TV Settings, Playback.

Running TV playback in a smaller window can also improve performance, as can customising your backend recording settings. (e.g. Smaller capture from analog cards, 44.1KHz audio is a better match to some Macs than 48KHz)

Installing Plugins

The following plugins will compile: MythVideo MythDVD MythGallery Torrentocracy

Here is how:

Grab the sources (cvs for official mythtv plugins, or from the website for other plugins) then run qmake (./configure first if needed)

Edit the Makefile (not the one in the main folder but the one in the subfolder with the same name) and add -flat_namespace -undefined suppress to the LFLAGS variable

run make

run sudo make install

Updates to this page

Update (22-05-05, by Bas Hulsken) The CVS build script is rather outdated. For those interested, I updated the script by Jeremiah Morris a bit, to build a recent cvs version, with mythvideo, mythdvd, mythweather, mythgallery and myththemes enabled. You can find it at : [1] (beware, slow adsl link) It should be easy to modify this script to add/remove plugins (at lines 286->300). Caveat Emptor: I'm a crappy perl-coder, I just improvise based on my C++ knowledge.. the script works, but probably breaks all perl-coding guidelines;-)

Update (12-08-05, by Bas Hulsken) Above script updated to use SVN ([2]), since this is the new CMS of myth. Also dependencies were updated to newest versions. Exif is disabled in mythgallery, since this won't compile for me (YMMV, try to enable it at line 306). Mythnews is also built now. You can build the 0.18.1-fixes release with './osx-packager -branch release-0-18-fixes'. Just running the script without options uses trunk (current version). I only tested with the 0.18-fixes, which compiles and runs fine on 10.3. But it probably should work for all. Obviously you need svn installed for this script to work (get a package somewhere, and make sure the svn binary is in /usr/bin or /usr/local/bin)

P.S. this script also supports LIRC, so you can compile lirc in slave mode on your mac (use no driver option) and connect to your backend server (set to listen mode). The backend should have, for instance, a RF remote. I'm having great succes with an ATI remote wonder.

server side ( run lirc with: 'lircd --listen'

client side (mac): run lirc with: 'lircd --permission=666'

Update (26-08-05, by Geoff Kruse) The script has been added to svn in the contrib directory a few weeks ago. Please submit any changes as a patch to trac. The current version has been hacked to work with svn.

Latest version can be found in /trunk/mythtv/contrib/OSX

Update (06-05-07, by Joann Bessler) Using and svn revision 13161 the backend builds and runs.

For more information

If you have problems with this guide, the mythtv-users mailing list is the best place to start. Check the searchable archive to see if your problem has already been discussed. Also, you can check the mythtv-dev list to see if it's a problem with CVS; if you can't compile MythTV, you may just have to wait a few days and try again.

When posting to the -users list, mention this guide and put "OS X" in the subject line. If you don't do those two steps, your humble guide author (Jeremiah Morris) may miss or ignore your message.

Finally, remember that this is a Wiki. If you find an inaccuracy, or have advice that may be helpful to others, improve this guide by adding your information!