How to use MMA with Mac OS X 10.3 or 10.4

Thanks to Jeff Balvanz, the following should help you get MMA running on your Mac. Jeff's suggestions are specific to OS X 10.3/4, but should work on any of the more current Macs. Please let me or Jeff know of any problems, etc.

Jeff's simple 14 point plan

The newest version of MMA requires Python 2.4, which isn't installed in Mac OS X 10.3 or 10.4. Apple chose to stay with Python 2.3, so you'll have to begin by updating Python first.

  1. Using your favorite Web browser, go to .

  2. Download "Universal Python 2.4 (Mac OS X 10.3.9 and later, Intel and PPC)". I won't give the URL because it will change each time Python 2.4 is updated, but it's the first link ending in ".dmg" in the list; hopefully it'll be obvious to you.

  3. Open the disk image file you just downloaded.

  4. A Finder window will open showing the contents of the disk image. Open MacPython.mpkg.

  5. The MacPython installer will launch. Follow the usual procedures for installing software and close the window when finished.

  6. Now you need to point the "python" command to the new python you just installed. Start the Terminal application and type the command
       sudo ln -fs /usr/local/bin/python2.4  /usr/bin/python  
    You'll probably be asked to enter your password with a terse "Password:" prompt. Type in the same one you used in the MacPython installer.

  7. Back in your favorite Web browser, go to

  8. There are links to several tar archives here. At a minimum, you will need the "mma-bin-1.x.tar.gz" file (at the time of this writing, mma-bin-1.0.tar.gz); that's the actual MMA program. You might also want to grab the archive for the PDF documentation (so you know what to do with MMA) and the sample MMA input files (so you can prove to yourself that it works when you're done). Place these files in a folder somewhere where you can find them.

  9. Go back to the Terminal application.

  10. Using the cd command, change to the directory into which you downloaded the files. (Remember that your home directory is /Users/shortname, where "shortname" is the short version of your username. See System Preferences -> Accounts if you don't know what your shortname is.)

  11. Unpack the mma-bin archive with the command
     tar -xzvf mma-bin-1.0.tar.gz 
    (If the version has changed, adjust the filename accordingly, okay?)

  12. The tar command will create a new directory. Change into this directory with the command
    cd mma-bin-1.0 
    (Same comments about version as above.)

  13. Now run the script that will install your MMA files into /usr/local/share/mma:
     sudo ./cp-install 
    Just keep pressing {return} whenever the script says "Press <ENTER> to continue" and everything will work fine.

  14. Now the MMA files are installed in /usr/local/share/mma, and the MMA program is in /usr/local/bin, right where Linux expects it to be. Unfortunately, Mac OS X doesn't expect executables there; they're supposed to be in /sw/bin instead. We fix that with the command
     sudo ln -sf /usr/local/bin/mma /sw/bin/mma 
    Now MMA should work as advertised. The resulting .mid files will play with the Quicktime Player and can either be double-clicked from the Finder or opened with the command:
     open filename.mid 

Updates, error reports, and kudos appreciated.

Updated Feb/22, 2007.