Getting Started w/ Arduino on Mac OS X

This document explains how to connect your Arduino board to the computer and upload your first sketch.

1 | Get an Arduino board and USB cable

In this tutorial, we assume you're using an Arduino Duemilanove, Nano, or Diecimila. If you have another board, read the corresponding page in this getting started guide.

You also need a standard USB cable (A plug to B plug): the kind you would connect to a USB printer, for example. (For the Arduino Nano, you'll need an A to Mini-B cable instead.)

Photos by SparkFun Electronics.

2 | Download the Arduino environment

Get the latest version from the download page.

The disk image (.dmg) should mount automatically. If it doesn't, double-click it. It should look like the following image.

3 | Install the Application and USB drivers

Copy the Arduino application into the Applications folder (or elsewhere on your computer).

If this is your first time using an Arduino with your computer, you will need to install the drivers for the FTDI chip on the board. Double-click the FTDIUSBSerialDriver_10_4_10_5_10_6.mpkg icon and follow the instructions in the installer. You'll need to restart your computer after installing the drivers. (The latest version of the drivers can be found on the FTDI website.)

4 | Connect the board

Connect the Arduino board to your computer using the USB cable. The green power LED (labelled PWR) should go on.

If you're using an Arduino Diecimila, you'll need to make sure that the board is configured to draw power from the USB connection. The power source is selected with a jumper, a small piece of plastic that fits onto two of the three pins between the USB and power jacks. Check that it's on the two pins closest to the USB port.

The Arduino Duemilanove and Arduino Nano automatically select the appropriate power source.

5 | Launch the Arduino application

Double-click the Arduino application.

6 | Open the blink example

Open the LED blink example sketch: File > Examples > Digital > Blink.

7 | Select your board

You'll need to select the entry in the Tools > Board menu that corresponds to your Arduino. For newer Arduino boards with an ATmega328 (check the text on the chip on the board), select Arduino Duemilanove or Nano w/ ATmega328. Previously, Arduino boards came with an ATmega168; for those, select Arduino Diecimila, Duemilanove, or Nano w/ ATmega168. (Details of the board menu entries are available on the environment page.)

8 | Select your serial port

Select the serial device of the Arduino board from the Tools > Serial Port menu. On the Mac, this should be something with /dev/tty.usbserial in it.

9 | Upload the program

Now, simply click the "Upload" button in the environment. Wait a few seconds - you should see the RX and TX leds on the board flashing. If the upload is successful, the message "Done uploading." will appear in the status bar. (Note: If you have an Arduino Mini, NG, or other board, you'll need to physically present the reset button on the board immediately before pressing the upload button.)

A few seconds after the upload finishes, you should see the pin 13 (L) LED on the board start to blink (in orange). If it does, congratulations! You've gotten Arduino up-and-running.

If you have problems, please see the troubleshooting suggestions.

You might also want to look at:

  • the examples for using various sensors and actuators
  • the reference for the Arduino language

The text of the Arduino getting started guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Code samples in the guide are released into the public domain.