Advice using the RTL-SDR on the Mac OS operating system?


Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Gary Wise (W4EEY), who writes:

A good friend of mine recently bought an RTL-SDR (Version 3) from Amazon after seeing the unit in action at my house.

He primarily uses Apple computers, however, and the software selections for Apple’s IOS recommended at the RTL-SDR Quick Start Guide ( don’t install easily (I understand they refuse to install due to security issues or restrictions).

What could you or your readers recommend for my friend (doesn’t have to be free)?

Thanks for sharing your question, Gary. I would also love to know a way to use my MacBook Air with the new RTL-SDR without having to run a dual-boot of Windows.

Earlier this year, Chris Smolinski, developed an easier way to run the RTL-SDR on a Mac, but I’m not sure if it can take advantage of the new HF coverage. Has anyone tried?

Readers: please comment if you have suggestions for Gary or if you’ve successfully used the new RTL-SDR on a Mac OSX.

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6 thoughts on “Advice using the RTL-SDR on the Mac OS operating system?

  1. Pete

    There are programs for Mac that will let you use the RTL-SDR on VHF and up frequencies
    (CubicSDR and Gqrx both work well.)

    I have found no way to use the RTL-SDR on HF on a mac. All the suggestions made do NOT work on HF.

    If any one can show me to be wrong, please so indicate. Thanks

  2. Aaron Kuhn

    I can’t speak to OS X difficulties having never used an RTL-SDR on a Mac, but your friend might look into trying Skywave Linux. It’s a bootable live-Linux system designed for SDR applications. The only issue I can imagine they may run into is driver compatibility/boot issues running it on an Apple system.

    1. KenL

      Thanks for the tip. I don’t have a MAC, use mostly Linux, but this will make it easier to try a number of available programs before I install one or two of them on my regular linux machines. Any one know of SDR software that will run on a chromebook?

      Thanks again

  3. Chris

    I have been using mine sporadically as time permits the last couple of weeks on my 3-year-old 11″ Macbook Air without issue using CubicSDR (

    You can download from the bottom of this page:

    and the file you want for the Mac is: CubicSDR-0.2.0-Darwin.dmg

    Download, double-click the DMG and run the installer.

    I am certainly a novice when it comes to SDR, so all I did when I received it (after installing CubicSDR) was attach the large antenna, plug it into a free USB port, fire up CubicSDR, select the dongle from the hardware list, start it and it all works.

    Hope that gives you a starting point.


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