Compiling ScummVM/macOS

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This page explains how to compile your own version of ScummVM for macOS. See also Compiling ScummVM/iPhone for iOS based devices.

Compiling ScummVM under macOS

Compiling ScummVM under macOS requires setting up the build environment first, and then compiling the sources either via command line, or the Xcode GUI.

Things needed

1. Xcode

This can be installed from the Mac App Store.

2. Xcode command line tools

After installing Xcode, open a terminal and type:

xcode-select --install

3. Package manager

Getting the required libraries is easier with a package manager. The three most well-known ones are Homebrew, MacPorts, and Fink.

Homebrew (recommended)

Install Homebrew by pasting the following into a terminal:

/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"


Install MacPorts by downloading and running the installer from the MacPorts installation page.

Obtaining the required libraries

If you only want to build scummvm for your own use and are fine executing it from the command line, you can use a package manager (method 1 and 2 below) to get the required libraries. However those methods to not provide the static libraries needed to build a bundle. If your goal is to build such a bundle you will need to download our libs package (method 3) or compile the libraries manually (method 4).


After downloading the Xcode command line tools and installing Homebrew, enter the following command to install all the required libraries:

brew install a52dec faad2 flac fluid-synth freetype fribidi mad libmpeg2 libogg libpng libvorbis sdl2 sdl2_net theora giflib zlib jpeg-turbo curl pkg-config pandoc libvpx libmikmod


After downloading the Xcode command line tools and installing MacPorts, enter the following command to install all the required libraries:

sudo port install libsdl2 libsdl2_net libjpeg-turbo libmpeg2 libogg libvorbis flac libmad libpng libtheora faad2 a52dec freetype zlib fluidsynth fribidi pandoc

Download our libs package

Those packages are configured to be placed in /usr/local/. So you should for example have the following structure:


They also contain a script, which you can use if you place the package content in any other location.

./ --from /usr/local --to /Users/FooBar/Documents/scummvm-libs

The script should be able to automatically determine the from and to paths, so they can be omitted in most cases.

If you place the content of the packages to a place other than /usr/local, you will need to specify the path to the libraries when you call configure:

./configure --with-staticlib-prefix=/path/to/libs

Manual compilation

Get the source code from the libraries. With this method you will not only need to get the libraries ScummVM uses directly, but also those they depend on.

All the libraries are compiled and installed in the same way:

cd thelib-src
./configure --prefix=/path/to/install
make install

The default installation path is /usr/local, but you will need admin privileges to install the libraries in this location.

cd thelib-src
sudo make install

If you want your compilation to be compatible with older systems, use the -mmacosx-version-min flag (for example -mmacosx-version-min=10.5). To force compilation in 32 bits use -arch i386. You can do that by setting environment variables before compiling all the libraries and ScummVM:

export LDFLAGS="-arch i386 -mmacosx-version-min=10.5"
export CFLAGS="-arch i386 -mmacosx-version-min=10.5"
export CXXFLAGS="-arch i386 -mmacosx-version-min=10.5"

bzip2 is an exception. There is no configure and you directly call make with options. For example:

make CFLAGS="-arch i386 -mmacosx-version-min=10.5 -Wall -Winline -O2 -g -D_FILE_OFFSET_BITS=64" LDFLAGS="-arch i386 -mmacosx-version-min=10.5"
make install PREFIX=/Users/criezy/Dev/scummvm-releases/libs

If you plan to build the ScummVM app bundle, you will need to generate static libraries. For most of the libraries this is done by default, but for a few you need to specify you want static libraries when invoking configure. Here are suggested configure options for each library. If the library is not listed in the table below this means the default is fine.

Library configure flags Comments
pkg-config --with-internal-glib
glib --enable-static
libmpeg2 --disable-sdl

Need to add -std=gnu89 to CFLAGS (for example 'export CFLAGS="-std=gnu89"' before invoking configure)

FLAC --enable-static --disable-asm-optimizations
FriBiDi --enable-static
Theora --disable-examples
  • Need to edit configure before running it to remove flag -fforce-addr
  • Examples do not compile with libpng 1.6

Compiling ScummVM via the command line

Configuring ScummVM

Run the configure script:


If no errors come up, you should be ready to compile ScummvM. For a list of optional features (e.g. additional, not yet enabled engines) run:

./configure --help

Here is a list of some options you may want to use:

  • --enable-all-engines or --enable-engine=foo,bar to enable unsupported engines (not compiled by default)
  • --with-staticlib-prefix=/path/to/install/dir if your libraries are not in a standard place (e.g. you compiled the libraries manually with a custom installation directory). This is only used when building the application bundle.
  • --enable-updates --with-sparkle-prefix=/path/to/sparkle to enable Sparkle (disabled by default). The path should be the path to the directory that contains the Sparkle.framework and not the path to the Sparkle.framework itself.

Note: If you want to use Sparkle, there are some additional steps to do such as setting up DSA signatures. See [1] for details. ScummVM expects to find the DSA public key in dist/macosx.dsa_pub.pem.

Compiling ScummVM

Just run make (with -j to compile several files in parallel, usually number of your virtual CPUs+2). For example, for a 2 core CPU:

make -j4

or -j18 for a 16-core CPU (including hyperthreaded cores).

To recompile everything and not just the modified files:

make clean
make -j4

Installing ScummVM

You can run ScummVM from the command line in the build directory:


You can also generate an application bundle and move this one anywhere you want:

make bundle

Some features such as dock integration are only available if you build the bundle.

Also if you run scummvm from the command line, you will need to set the Theme path in the ScummVM options so that it finds the modern theme. The themes are in gui/themes/ in the source code repository.

Important note about SDL2

The scummvm compilation assumes that the bundle uses the static SDL library. However if you have both a dynamic and static SDL2 library, SDL2 by default will instruct to use the dynamic library. To make bundles that work on other computers you can do one of two things:

  1. Locate the installed sdl2-config script (for example /usr/local/bin/sdl2-config) and edit the line after --static-libs), replace echo -L${exec_prefix}/lib -lSDL2 with echo ${exec_prefix}/lib/libSDL2.a (and preserve the rest of the line). This needs to be done before you make the bundle.
  2. After creating the bundle, copy the dynamic libSDL2 to the bundle and instruct the executable where to find it:
otool -L  | grep SDL2
   <Note the path for the SDL2 library - below we assume it is /usr/local/lib/libSDL2-2.0.0.dylib>
cp /usr/local/lib/libSDL2-2.0.0.dylib
install_name_tool -change /usr/local/lib/libSDL2-2.0.0.dylib "@executable_path/../Frameworks/libSDL2-2.0.0.dylib"

Doing that is not needed if you are only going to use the ScummVM application on the same computer you compiled it on.

Compiling ScummVM via the Xcode GUI

Creating an Xcode project

  • Compile create_project:
cd devtools/create_project/xcode
  • Run create_project from the root ScummVM directory:
cd ../../..
./devtools/create_project/xcode/build/Release/create_project . --xcode

Note that `create_project` accepts most of the same flags that `configure` accepts.

Build the Xcode project

  • Open the Xcode project
  • Go to Product -> Scheme and set the scheme to "ScummVM-macOS"
  • Go to Product -> Scheme -> Edit Scheme -> Run tab -> Options tab and uncheck "Allow debugging when using document Versions Browser"
  • If the required libraries (such as SDL2) are not in /usr/local, you will need to update the Header Search Paths and Library Search Paths build settings in Xcode.
  • Build with Product -> Build or Product -> Run

Further reading