Apple macOS options for C programming.

return to main page

An Apple Mac is a great platform for personal use. That's likely why you are using one. Even so, worldwide use of macOS ranges between 10 and 15%. Please know that macOS has limited use in business and professional environments where Windows is on 95% of desktops. Interaction between the Windows and Apple worlds is easier now than it used to be but, given the overwhelming presence of Windows, macOS users will have to be the ones to adapt because Apple follows few computing standards except their own. Microsoft Office 365 files can be considered interchangeable between the two platforms.

Installing Visual Studio for macOS will waste your time – despite the name, it is not the same thing as VS IDE – and VS for macOS does not support C or C++ programming.

Visual Studio Code has become a mostly viable alternative for C/C++ programming. Microsoft "Code" products run cross-platform on Windows, Apple, or Linux. VS Code has made progress but it is still in preview release, and is not supported in our school. It is the closest thing to Visual Studio IDE on Windows. It has worked for students who read all the installation notes carefully.

VS Code on macOS even worked for Tim McKenna, an old IBM mainframe, command line guy who barely tolerates any kind of single-user 'computer'. He reports:

I just installed VS Code on a mac. Me! a total Apple noob who uses their partner's old mac to watch Netflix because the mac has a beautiful screen and decent sound for a laptop. Me. I can't believe it.
VS Code at https://code.visualstudio.com/ read the docs, add the C/C++ extension, and compile but use the C helloWorld instead of the C++ shown here -- see the previous page.

Seriously consider running Apple Bootcamp (runs on x86, not yet on M1) and installing Windows OS. How do I know if my Macbook has enough hardware capacity? Review this for practical hardware specifications. To create storage space on your Mac, "clean up" your system of old files and large video, audio, and image files that can be stored somewhere else. Before you try installing or removing Bootcamp, is your data backed up? If installing Windows does not work, Apple Bootcamp is removable. Note that storage requirements for schoolwork are modest. Becoming good at managing two OS environments makes you a more valuable IT professional.

Instead of Visual Studio, can I use …something else...? Yes, you can use anything else if you are an experienced programmer. e.g. Xcode

General note: Use only the Firefox browser. Safari works reliably and is totally compatible with HTML5, JavaScript, and web programming on planet Apple in a galaxy far, far away. Seriously, Safari may well be the least standard browser extant according to web developers' bug reports. Now that Microsoft's Internet Explorer is gone, Safari is the one they hate the most.