Dedicated to chess on Mac

Information for Chess players, Chess programmers and Apple users

Updated on : 04/01/2022
Version 1.58
En français


This page contains information how to develop chess software for the Mac. Only information with regard to Mac OS X and X11 is be included. There is no division in these pages with regard to the different kind of applications. You will find console applications, aqua applications and X11 applications next to each other.

Read the latest information on Belofte, or skip to its Wiki, manual or documentation.


I would be inclined to tell you that you will have to start with the download section on this site. This would be an overstatement because you can get software from hundreds of sites. There is a very short list included in the links page, but this is far from complete. I hope one day, surfers will flock to this site in order to find anything related to chess on mac, until that day, please refer to the places indicated below first.

Mac OS X native / aqua

Other softwares to be added to this list.

Mac OS X java

There are no chess softwares developed in java that are only written for the Mac OS X platform. You will have to refer to the source code contained on the sites for other platforms. The compatibility of the java implementation is not always 100%. If different platform dependent packages are available, please use packages in following order:

  1. Mac OS X packages;
  2. Sun Solaris packages;
  3. Windows packages;
  4. UNIX packages;
  5. Linux packages.

Mac OS X Console

Most softwares in this category are ports from Unix or from DOS command line. Next to this, almost all softwares developed for XBoard or Winboard also support the command line interface. A good starting point for this is the XBoard/Winboard software list.

Unless some softwares supporting the UCI protocol or relying on non-standard Cygwin libraries that have an inproper interface, most applications are possible candidates for compiling for Mac OS X.

Mac OS X X11

As stated above, all XBoard and most Winboard applications will compile on the Mac. If multiple platforms are available, you might be looking to packages in the following order:

  1. Mac OS X packages;
  2. UNIX packages;
  3. Linux packages;
  4. Windows packages.

Other ports

Some very old ports from DOS and Atari are available for the Mac. Other candidates are ports from the Codewarrior console applications towards Mac OS X.

I have little information about successful deployment of these ports on Mac OS X.

Using Fink

A lot of Mac OS X users do seem to use Fink in order to download and install the different packages. I do not use Fink (yet) and it is perfectly possible to get the chess programs to run just by downloading the source code and following the instructions on these pages. Using Fink however seems to make it easier to resolve the dependecies on other packages.

GTK+ comments

For some UNIX based applications, the dependency on GTK+ still gives me some problems. e.g. SCID.


Please make sure to download the software first. More details are contained on the getting page. All instructions below were tested on Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) and 10.4 (Tiger)

Mac OS X Chess:

It has been developed with XCode 1.0. I managed to download it, open it and compile it with XCode 1.1 without any trouble.


As of Xboard 4.2.7 it compiles directly from the download package with the following instructions. No needs anymore to download updated configure scripts.



Detailed instructions to be included.

Console applications:

Compiling and running your application is most often possible by running the following scripts.



Detailed instructions to be included.


cd crafty-19.13


Detailed instructions to be included.


Edit the makefile.gcc and add following line.
CPP = g++

Then change in the following line the $(CC) flag in $(CPP)
pepitox: $(OBJECTS)
    $(CPP) $(CFLAGS) -o pepitox $(OBJECTS)

Then compile and execute.

cd pepisrc
make -f makefile.gcc


Edit the phalanx.c file because it has syntax errors. You will notice the errors on the first make. After correction, compile it.

cd Phalanx-XXII


Compiles straight out of the box.

cd belofte/project


Obviously, most applications can be run by double-clicking their application icon.

Mac OS X chess

Script: from terminal open /Applications/


Script: from terminal open /Applications/Utilities/
PS: It can take a few seconds to launch. Combining this script with the following scripts can cause trouble because the X11 display is not available yet causing Xboard to fail.


I have Xboard 4.2.6 running on my systems. As chess engines I have crafty, gnuchess and my own chess program running with it. As a first example, please find how to launch Xboard with crafty. For the other programs, you only have to replace the line with crafty with the indicated line.

  1. Start X11. Open xterm. Change to the xboard directory. Launch it with the correct parameters.
  2. Start X11. Open terminal. Set the display variable. Export it. Change to the xboard directory. Launch it with the correct parameters.

Script 1: from xterm

cd Documents/chess/xboard-4.2.6
./xboard -fd ../crafty-19.13 -fcp "./crafty xboard"

Script 2: from terminal assuming you have the bash shell installed.

export DISLPAY
cd Documents/chess/xboard-4.2.6
./xboard -fd ../crafty-19.13 -fcp "./crafty xboard"

Script 3: from terminal assuming you have the tcsh-shell installed.

setenv DISPLAY=:0.0
cd Documents/chess/xboard-4.2.6
./xboard -fd ../crafty-19.13 -fcp "./crafty xboard"

Alternative 4: double click on a script-file

Make sure the script file has been converted into a double-click application as indicated below.

Special remark about XBoard: Upon launch, Xboard tries to launch GNUChess unless command line parameters are being specified. If you fail to launch XBoard because it complains about GNUChess not found, you probably have given the wrong parameters.


EBoard is reported to be working with Sjeng and Crafty.

Next to be included: detailed installation scripts for EBoard with its different engines.

Gothmog with Xboard

cd Documents/chess/xboard-4.2.6
./xboard -fd ../gotmog -fcp "./gothmog"

GNUChess with Xboard

cd Documents/chess/xboard-4.2.6
./xboard -fd ../gnuchess-5.07/src -fcp "./gnuchess xboard"

Pepito with Xboard

cd Documents/chess/xboard-4.2.6
./xboard -fd ../pepisrc -fcp "./pepitox xboard"

Console applications

All Xboard compatible engines run also on the command line. Next to these, most UNIX programs also compile without any problems.

Running programs from the command line means opening the terminal, going to the correct folder and typing ./programx where programx is your application you want to launch.

e.g.. ./crafty or ./gnuchess or ...

Convert a script to a Double-click application

If you create a script, make it executable with chmod a+x scriptname, and save it with a .command extension, you can double-click on the file and it will be launched.

An alternative way is to link a script to the terminal with the cmd-i finder combination.

Beware, scripts launched this way are more error-prone because the environment parameters are not retained.

Some example scripts are made available in the download section.