Unable to record on OSX Catalina

Hey All,

Have been using Ardour for about 12 months. Have a basic subscription and love the product. Easy to use and intuitive. I want to continue using the product however I’ve run into an issue with my latest laptop, which is running Mac OS Catalina.

Unfortunately, downgrading my laptop isn’t an option (I’m not even sure if you can do that?).

What’s happening, is that even with an Audio Interface plugged in, Ardour can’t capture the audio from the device. It looks like in OS Catalina, Apple have introduced a “permissions request” for the “microphone” and unless the application has been granted this permission, it can’t record from ANY input on the machine. Now I completely understand why they’ve done this, insert conspiracy about creepy recordings here.

Are there any plans for this to be looked at with Ardour? or any known work-arounds? This morning I’ve tried to install Jack, but Apple is telling me that’s also not supported on Catalina.

Any suggestions here?


It is already fixed in Ardour/git (upcoming Ardour 6.0). You could grab a https://nightly.ardour.org/ build. That is known to work on Catalina.

There is no easy work-around to get Ardour 5.12 working, but if you really need to and don’t mind get your hands dirty…

The problem is that Ardour 5 uses a shell-script wrapper to start the application. So the effective application binary name does not match the application-bundle name. And for some obscure reason that prevents MacOS from granting permissions to the app. So you’d have to remove the shell script in Ardour5.app/Contents/MacOS/ and rename Ardour5.real to Ardour5. Then either launch if from a Terminal after setting the environment variable ARDOUR_BUNDLED=1 or edit the .plist file in the Ardour5.app bundle to set up the environment.

Thankyou so much! I crawled the documentation to see if I could find any reference to this and I couldn’t, maybe I was looking in the wrong place. At least it’s here now. I’ll grab the nightly build I think and use that and sit tight for the 6.0 release.

Thanks heaps!

Thanks for the info!

I didn’t want to run the nightly cause I’m new to Ardour so wanted to stick with stable, but I did have success with audio recording in Ardour v5.12 on MacOS Catalina. The one thing not mentioned here yet is that you may need to go to “System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> Microphone” and allow the Terminal app to access your microphone.

This command then worked to open Ardour and enable recording audio in a session:

ARDOUR_BUNDLED=1 /Applications/Ardour5.app/Contents/MacOS/Ardour5

Probably not a setting I’ll keep active though :slight_smile:

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Thank you! I was struggling with it and now I can use ardour with MacOS Catalina thanks to this! It was easier than I thought.

I’ll likely try the same thing!

Great solution! To improve slightly on this: after launching Ardour from the terminal and having granted access to the microphone, you could turn this into a shell script and launch ardour from the Dock:

Open TextEdit.app and choose “convert to plain text” from the Format menu. Now enter or copy-paste this:


ARDOUR_BUNDLED=1 /Applications/Ardour5.app/Contents/MacOS/Ardour5&

Save it in the Apps folder as “Launch Ardour” or something like that, and make sure no .txt is added at the end. Now launch Terminal.app and enter

chmod 700

(don’t press enter yet!). Now drag the saved shell-script onto you terminal window. Its path should be added now after "chmod 700 ". Now press enter. The shell script is now turned into an executable. Next, double-click the newly made shell-script et voila: Ardour is launched correctly. In the Finder you could copy Ardour’s icon from its info-window and paste it onto the shell-script and then drag the shell-script to the Dock.

The &-sign at the end of the shell script is there to prevent Ardour from being shut down when you close the terminal window.

I’m a musician. At this time, physical studio recordings are not an option. Studio recordings are being accomplished remotely, and in stages, in these days of rampant contagion. I’m NOT an IT guy, Apple guy, Mac guy, etc. and new to Ardour. I’m wondering when I’ll be able to accomplish the following with Ardour:

  1. Install Ardour on my 2013, 64-bit iMac running OS X Catalina and actually record/playback, etc.
    Note: Attempts with the assistance of Apple Support to retrograde back to the OSX preceding Catalina failed.
  2. Use Ardour with my Behringer XAir XR18 to playback a customer-provided master track while overdubbing multiple drum tracks using this configuration.
  3. Accomplish 1 & 2 without having to learn how to use the Terminal App, reset Text Edit, etc., etc.
  4. If all this is unlikely, perhaps some advice on what Ardour-like app is out there that actually works on Catalina after a simple download and install.
  • I’m not impatient, so if Ardour will eventually function fully, I can wait. (Many of my collaborators use Ardour on Linux. Compatibility with them is a plus.) I’d be curious as to schedule for completion, though, so that I might inform my collaborators when my remote studio will be operational. This is not a commercial enterprise - hobbyist musicians.
    Thanks! :-DrummerDrew

I used to store every OS X version install image because we sometimes needed to install an old version of Pro Tools that was not supported / working on a newer OS and you can’t get an older macOs image from Apple. I just recently stopped this practice since I’m no longer on that department or using Pro Tools. I still have the macOs 10.13.5 install image (5.22 GB) though if you need it :slight_smile: It seems to me an older OS might solve most of your problems.


  1. Maybe just wait a week or so, and use Ardour 6.0

Note: 1 and 2 do not require the use of a Terminal, thus eliminating 3.

Thank you so much for your response.

Will there be an announcement when 6 is available?

Or should I visit the website periodically?

Thank you,


I myself am waiting for 6

There will be an announcement on this website and a few other places, but often Ardour flies under the radar of many more popular sites and magazines so it is doubtful you will see it there (But not impossible).

As a result I would suggest just checking back every week or so.

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