Using AU and VST plug-ins on Mac
- Live Versions: All
- Operating System: Mac
- AU or VST?
- Installing plug-ins
- Using a Custom Folder for plug-ins
- What to do if a plug-in doesn't appear in Live
- What to do if a plug-in doesn't function correctly in Live
- What to do if a plug-in crashes Live
Live on Mac supports both the Audio Unit (AU) and VST formats. Which format you choose to use is up to you, bearing in mind the following tips:
- If sharing projects with Windows users, it's better to use VSTs. If the other user also has that plug-in installed they should be able to open the project. See our recommendations for transferring Live projects.
- Some AU plug-ins may have different preset handling than the VST, or vice versa. See our article on AU preset handling.
- AU plug-ins do not support a direct MIDI out. If you wish to route MIDI from a plug-in you need to use the VST version instead. See this article for info on how to access the MIDI outputs of a plug-in.
- Avoid using the AU and VST versions of the same plug-in in a Live set. Mixing AU and VST versions of different plug-ins should not be a problem however.
Some plug-ins may install themselves using an installer, others may not need to be installed but just downloaded and moved to the correct folder. AU plug-ins have the extension .component. VST plug-ins will have the extension .vst and each needs to be installed/moved to their respective folders.
The following system folders are the default installation folders for plug-ins on Mac:
Macintosh HD:/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/ (AU)
Macintosh HD:/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST/ (VST)
Certain plug-ins may install themselves to the <user> folder. This folder is hidden by default, here's how to access hidden folders.
Macintosh HD:/Users/[Your Username]/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components/ (AU)
Macintosh HD:/Users/[Your Username]/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST/ (VST)
You can then choose to enable or disable the System Folders for AU and VST in Live's preferences on the File/Folder tab.
If you prefer to use a custom (non-system) folder to store your VST plug-ins, you can set this in your preferences:
- Open Live's Preferences to the File/Folder tab.
- Under "Plug-In Sources" select a custom VST folder.
- Then switch "Use VST Plug-In Custom Folder" On.
- Note 1: The custom folder needs to be a separate distinct folder from the system folder.
- Note 2: It's not possible to create a custom AU folder.
You can find more information about third-party plug-ins in this video tutorial:
See our dedicated article: VST/AU plug-in doesn't appear in Live.
- Check the manufacturer's website to verify that there's a compatible version for your Operating System.
- Check the manufacturer's website and make sure you have installed the latest version of the plug-in. If necessary re-install the plug-in completely.
- If Live crashes at launch after installing a VST plug-in, you can press and hold the alt/option key while launching Live. This will skip the VST scanning process and temporarily disable the VST folder. Note: AU Plug-ins are not scanned at launch and therefore cannot be bypassed.
- If an AU plug-in is causing a crash you should update or uninstall it temporarily.
- If the crashes continue, contact support with any available crash reports.
- Selecting a whole drive, a system folder or your entire hard drive as a custom plug-in folder location can cause Live to crash at launch.
- Make sure that your plug-in folder only contains VST and AU files and no other file types.