Compilers usually produce code that will run faster than the alternative, interpreters. The executable program can be distributed without the source code, which makes it harder for anyone to steal the programming ideas that went into the program. A disadvantage of compilers is that the compiling step adds time to the development process because the whole program must be compiled each time a change is made.
C Compiler for Mac using Xcode
The most recommended way to get a C Compiler for Mac is to use Xcode. This uses gcc, the popular open source C compiler. The details vary for each version of OS X.
For all of the versions of OS X, you will be downloading Xcode. Xcode is an Integrated Development Environment, or IDE. An IDE allows you to write, compile, and debug a program from one central interface. Xcode can act as an IDE for C programming. All of the install methods involve first getting Xcode, then making the C Compiler for Mac davailable outside of Xcode, and then installing a newer version of gcc.
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For OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, download Xcode 3 from the Apple Developer Site. This will give you a working version of gcc, but it is an older version. If you want or need a more up to date version, that is available at High Performance Computing for Mac OS X. You can install this after installing Xcode. The files must be unzipped and installed at the command line. After that, you will need to update your Shell resource file so that the newer versions are used. Details can be found at Installing the GNU compilers on Mac OS X.
For OS X 10.7 Lion, you must get Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store. It is free, but you need to supply credit card information in order to have an App Store account. For Xcode 4.2, what you download from the App Store is an installer, which you then run. For Xcode 4.3, it is installed automatically, but it does not have gcc in the correct location. To finish the job, start Xcode and go to Preferences, Downloads, Components. Click on the Install button that is next to Command Line Tools. This gives you older versions of gcc. For the newest versions, you can use High Performance Computing for Mac OS X, as described for OS X 10.6. The process is similar and details can also be found at Installing the GNU compilers on Mac OS X.
OS X 10.8 will be very similar to 10.7. Install Xcode, then install the command line tools from the preferences. You can then get the newer versions of gcc as described for version 10.7.
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OS X 10.9 Mavericks will use Xcode 5 and a revised process. Xcode 5 does not have the option to install the command line version of gcc. Instead, ensure that Xcode 5 has all available updates installed by checking from within the program. Then go to the Apple Developer Site and find the latest version of Command Line Tools (OS X Mavericks) for Xcode. It is a standard installer package. Finally, you can update the version of gcc in a manner similar to the other versions of OS X.
Other C compilers for Mac
Apple has extended the gcc compiler with a version called llvm. It incorporates more modern functioning and has a different licensing model needed by Apple for its proprietary software. Clang is an IDE for this compiler. It is designed to give more user-friendly error messages. Clang will give you the latest tools used by Apple for development. The downside is that there is no installer. It has to be built from source code, which means that you will need gcc already. Details are given at the llvm site.
Another option is given by Eclipse. Eclipse is a popular IDE for Java. The CDT plugin for Eclipse gives it the ability to compile C programs and become an IDE for C. Details can be found at the CDT page of the Eclipse site.
Now that you have a C compiler for your Mac, you can try a tutorial to write a simple program. Then get a solid start in C programming with this course for beginners. If you already know one language, extend your skills with a course for intermediate coders.
Best C Compilers
The programming languages C and C++ are the most crucial for every programmer to master since they are the base-point for many other and recent programming languages and still used in many ways today.
A list of best C, C++ compilers to work with Mac OS X, Linux, Windows 7/8/8.1 OS environment is given here –
Eclipse C Compiler
With Eclipse you get advance functionality for programming in C, C++ on an open-source platform. This IDE is really a simple to use IDE, perfect for anyone new to programming. It comes packed with impressive features including a debugger, auto-code completion, syntax highlighting etc.
It is supported on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. For compiling the Java run-time environment needs to be functionally operational on the PC.
Code Blocks Compiler
This is a cross-platform extensible and open source IDE compatible for C++. The IDE can be extended with help of different, available PLUGINS. The IDE is fully configurable and can be downloaded through several ways
Downloading the setup file for the binary release you can run it on the PC. Alternately download a nightly-build, source code or retrieve source-code from the SVN.
It’s free and has both GUI and command-line versions. Digital Mars is convenient to use for its quick link time and efficient compile.
Though small C-Free has brilliant features and can be considered as an alternative to the traditional Turbo-C compiler for developing C++, C programs and for supporting many other compilers as well.
The compiler comes in a 30-day free trial version but for using it long you have to buy it.
Comprising of a group of tools for programming to cater to native windows apps MinGW has a GCC port like C, ADA, Fortan and C++ compilers.
This is not a free IDE but the fact that it’s quite a powerful and intuitive editor for source code manipulations works to its favor.
With a set of different libraries like SQL, GUI, Ultimate++ works well with MinGW, Visual C++, and GCC and is used by C++ programmers for good productivity output. It is cross-platform and a RAD IDE.
So those were some of the best C Compilers for Mac and Linux PCs.
Out of the box, OS X Lion doesn’t have the command line C compilers. Plus, Apple has once again changed the way you install those compilers in /usr/bin. Here’s how to do it with the latest Xcode and Lion.
Back in August, right after OS X 10.7, Lion, shipped, I wrote about how a new installation does not have the C compilers in the expected place, /usr/bin. This article, “OS X Lion for UNIX Geeks: Installing the C Compilers,” provided all the background.
Recently, professor Ulf von Barth of Lund University in Sweden alerted me to the fact that the mechanism has changed yet again. In the article linked above, I explained that all you had to do was download and install Apple’s Xcode IDE, and everything would be as expected. Now, you have to do a little more. But before I proceed, you should go back and read that article for reference on the C compilers, gcc, llvm, and all that jazz.
There may be good reasons not to have a C compiler sitting around an average user’s Mac, ready to stir up trouble if accessed by malware. Thats why it’s not in the Mac by default. On the other hand, you may be taking a C class and want to use a C compiler (gcc now points to llvm) from the command line. Or you may be an administrator, and you want the C compiler to be available in a lab setting. Or you’re a researcher, and you don’t use Xcode for scientific computing. Some day, an IT admin will come up to you and question you about the Mac, and you proudly announce that it’s based on (BSD) UNIX. This Linux guru will open the command line, type “cd /usr/bin; ./gcc -v” and then snort. “Aha. Nothing there. It’s not real UNIX! ” Not good.
Uh-oh. Not there.
For whatever reason you may have, here’s what you need to do nowadays. Note that, unlike before, when everything was free, you will need to be a registered Mac developer.
1. Download Xcode, now at version 4.3.2, just as before, from the Mac App Store. Finder -> Apple -> App Store… It’s always been free and still is.
2. Launch thethat was downloaded to /Applications.
3. If you stop there, you’ll find that, unlike before, the command line compilers are not installed by default. You can go hunting for them, and you’ll it all in:
Oops. gcc/llvm now buried /Applications for use by Xcode
Phew! That won’t do you any good unless you intend to use Xcode exclusively. Very likely, all your conventional Make scripts won’t know where to find the C compilers (and linker and assembler) now, and you wouldn’t want to modify them anyway. So setting up links to the new location would be messy and likely will not work, creating new headaches. What you need is everything back in /usr/bin like before.
4. After launching Xcode, go to Preferences and select the Downloads pane, then Components. There, in the list of candidate items will be the Command line tools. Click “Install.”
5. You’ll be prompted for your developer credentials…
…then you’ll see the classic progress bar. When that’s done, the C compilers will all be in /usr/bin, as desired. To prove that all’s well, open a terminal window, cd to /usr bin, and take a look. Voila.
- Mac OS X Kodiak, 10.0 (Cheetah), 10.1 (Puma), 10.2 (Jaguar), 10.3 (Panther), 10.4 (Tiger), 10.5 (Leopard), 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion)
- OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks), 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan)
- macOS 10.12 (Sierra), 10.13 (High Sierra), 10.14 (Mojave), 10.15 (Catalina), 11.0 (Big Sur) and Later Version.
- Supported Hardware: Intel or Apple Chip (M1) or PowerPC Mac.
All is well again in /usr/bin
It’s a shame we have to go through all that these days, but I can see how Apple feels that the majority of users don’t need these tools, and those who do will find out how to get them. I suppose you could call that a subordinate claws.
My thanks to Dr. Ulf von Barth of Lund University in Sweden and Dr. Gaurav Khanna, Physics Dept., the University of Massachussetts for their assistance with this article.