RTLSDR – Up and running in Mac OSX Yosemite with GQRX & GNURadio

RTLSDR – Up and running in Mac OSX Yosemite with GQRX & GNURadio

A while back I bought an RTL2832u device from ebay for a very small amount and was blown away by how this piece of kit performed.


Under linux and windows it worked beautifully, I then purchased a new MacBook Pro and didn’t really know what to use as I have had no experience under Mac OSX.


So a little research came up with GQRX and I can tell you it works brilliantly and has pretty much everything you need.

Whilst there are Mac binary (DMG) files for GQRX I have not been able to find any current versions.

But I did find that MacPorts has an up to date version which is good news for us!


If you do not know what MacPorts is, it’s a an easy to use system for compiling, managing and installing open source software. Similar to Brew if you use that.

So let’s crack on and get MacPorts installed so we can get playing!



Firstly we need to install Xcode from the Apple App Store

This link will take you directly to the Xcode app in the app store.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 11.54.42

Once you have Xcode installed, it’s time to install MacPorts

Download the Yosemite package here for any other version of Mac OSX please see this directory.


Install the package by double clicking it and proceeding through the next steps. You will more likely get to the stage in the installation where it says “Running package scripts”. At this stage it might take a while so please be patient it hasn’t stopped working and is downloading the latest base set behind the scenes.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 11.59.52

Installing GQRX using MacPorts “Port” Command.

After the MacPorts installation has finished we then need to go ahead and issue some commands to MacPorts to install GQRX.

Fire up your Terminal of choice (I am currently using iTerm2) and issue the following command.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 12.06.59

MacPorts will then compute all dependencies, download, compile and install them.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 12.09.15This part may take a while depending on your systems hardware as it has to compile the whole of GNU Radio and some other dependencies.

Once it has finished compiling and installing there will be a new menu item in your dash (F4) called MacPorts and within that folder your will be your shiny new GQRX Icon.




Launch GQRX and you will be preseneted with the following screen.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 20.17.47

No Sound Huh?

Hit the top left to activate the application and you will be surfing the airwaves in not time, I did get a little annoyed after setting this up because there was no sound at all, luckily though it was just me being lazy and expecting the application to work straight away as it has done with all other applications I have used.



What I didn’t do was set the demodulation type. In the top right hand side of the program is the receiver options with the multi choice “Mode” box. You can have a look at other options to suit yourself but I chose WFM (Stereo) and all was working well.


So.. There you have it, you are now up and running and ready to surf the air waves. I hope this worked for you as it is pretty straight forward. If I missed anything or you’d like to point anything out please contact me!

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40 thoughts on “RTLSDR – Up and running in Mac OSX Yosemite with GQRX & GNURadio

  1. Just tried to install on MBP, 8 GB RAM, i7, and SSD. All seemed to go fine but didn’t create the final GQRX icon. Tried repeating the terminal command but keep getting an error at the end. Any ideas anyone. Kind regards, Roger

    BTW, also Yosemite OSX, DVB-T+DAB+FM SDR. Is 8GB not enough memory?

    1. Sorry for the late reply, I have the same specification of Macbook and have no issues here at all. I’m not sure to be honest how to combat the issue? Have you done code-select –install?

  2. Fails to say that if you haven’t agreed to xcode conditions after installing or upgrading, the instructions fall flat on their face…

  3. Take 2: Apparently, before running “sudo port install gqrx” you must run “xcode-select –install” in Terminal. The instructions don’t tell you that either, you a see message fly up, but there’s no obvious safe way to interrupt the process.

    1. Hi Chris thanks for adding that I’ve just reinstalled and noticed the same thing. I thing it may have been a change that was added after writing the article. I will update it, thanks.

  4. Goood job overall but a crucial missing step. The above makes it seem like you can just install XCode and issue the sudo command for MacPorts. Actually, you have to open XCode at least once for it to complete configuration, for you to agree to license, install XCode command line tools, &c.

  5. Hi all just one prob. once the install is finish I don’t have the GQRX icon, many other ICON but not the essential ICON I need !!! any help ? Thanks and bravo….

  6. The install went fine. However it seems as though the program does not see the antenna. I can make changes to all the assorted options, but there is no indication that the antenna is being “seen”. I know it works because I have run the same dongle with SDR# on my Windows 10 laptop. I prefer working with the MacBook Air.

  7. I love this! Thanks for the article… I have read and followed it and the comments to the letter [I think] and still get:

    —> Building uhd

    Error: org.macports.build for port uhd returned: command execution failed

    Error: Failed to install uhd

    Please see the log file for port uhd for details:


    Error: The following dependencies were not installed: gnuradio uhd volk orc xmlto coreutils docbook-xml docbook-xml-4.1.2 docbook-xml-4.2 xmlcatmgr docbook-xml-4.3 docbook-xml-4.4 docbook-xml-4.5 docbook-xml-5.0 docbook-xsl findutils fop getopt libpaper gr-osmosdr airspy bladeRF tecla gr-fcdproplus hackrf rtl-sdr

    To report a bug, follow the instructions in the guide:


    Error: Processing of port gqrx failed

    dBs-Mini-Me:~ username$

    ANY ideas? Sorta, kinda at a loss….

  8. I had an error about 4 hours into / sudo port gqrx / .. Failed to install libgcc …
    therefore the command execution failed …. What should i do now…? Any advice is appreciate… thanks

  9. I followed the instructions to the t. Got an error from not agreeing to the license. went thru all that followed the steps I do not have GQRX icon nor do I have the Macports icon either. So I am at a loss as to what to do..
    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide

  10. I-m running el capitan, installed FIRST Macports, Then Xcode, started xcode and installed gqrx, all seems to run fine , still running the installer…

  11. This is taking all night! Why do we even have to do this at all? Why doesn’t the author build/compile/whatever this himself and we download, install and enjoy it? This is absurd! Oh great! “Command line tools don’t appear to be installed…” Now I have to start again as soon as this finishes. Hope it’s ready before the weekend. Hope it’s worth it!

  12. Hello! Running ElCap.., downloaded iTerm2, ran your suggested MacPorts command, and it ran for probably two hours, processing dozens of routines and staging them into the ‘desroot’ collection. But then it stalled, at llvm-3.7. And it won’t re-start, reporting: “Waiting for lock on /opt/local/var/macports/registry/.registry.lock”. Any suggestions? I really don’t want to return my radio dongle when I got so close!

  13. This is crazy, I have followed all the directions to a tee, I have had to download a dozen programs and updates, (not counting the other ones that magically appear every time), the terminal programs has run two or three times for HOURS only to end up with an error message at the end every time. F— THIS!

  14. It all installed surprisingly with out issue on El Capitan. Thanks! Now I just need to figure out TV (video) signals, etc.

  15. Works fine on my mid 2010 iMac with a nooelec nesdr mini2+. I now need a better antenna. Any suggestions for something that won’t need to be erected high up and can receive weather sat transmissions and acars?

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