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Installing ffmpeg and ffprobe on macOS manually

To manually install ffmpeg and ffprobe for use with Audio Orchestrator, follow these instructions.


Audio Orchestrator is an experimental tool from the BBC for creating multi-device audio experiences. Like many other programs, it uses ffmpeg and ffprobe under the hood. You do not need it just to run ffmpeg and ffprobe. Only follow the instructions below if you want to use Audio Orchestrator but a standard ffmpeg installation is not possible. We generally recommend using Homebrew (i.e., brew install ffmpeg, which includes ffprobe) instead.


If you still need to install Audio Orchestrator itself, follow the macOS installation instructions first.

  1. Download ffmpeg and ffprobe.

    1. Go to and click the Apple logo in the "Get packages & executable files" section.
    2. Click "Static builds for macOS 64-bit".
    3. You'll see two options for downloading ffmpeg. Choose the one with the shorter filename; this will look like ffmpeg-<versionNumber>.7z, where <versionNumber> is something like 4.3.1.
    4. Underneath this heading, click "Download as ZIP".
    5. Scroll down the page until you see ffprobe. Choosing the shorter filename, under ffprobe-<versionNumber>.7z, click "Download the file as ZIP".
    6. If a popup appears after clicking the download link, press "allow" or "save".
    7. Open your Downloads folder, and double-click ffmpeg-<versionNumber>.zip. This will extract it using the Archive Utility and create an executable ffmpeg file in Downloads.
    8. Repeat this step for ffprobe.
    9. You should now have two executables, called ffmpeg and ffprobe.
  2. Move the downloaded files to the right location.

    1. Open your home folder.
      • Your home folder has the same name as your user account. The easiest way to find it is to open Finder, and use the keyboard shortcut command + shift + H or in the menu bar select Go > Home.
      • You should see folders such as Desktop, Applications, and Downloads in this folder.
    2. Create a new folder called audio-orchestrator-ffmpeg in your home folder.
      • Go to File > New folder or use the shortcut command + shift + N, type or enter the folder name, and press return to confirm.
    3. Open your new audio-orchestrator-ffmpeg folder by double-clicking it.
    4. Create a new folder called bin in audio-orchestrator-ffmpeg.
    5. Move the ffmpeg and ffprobe files from Downloads into this bin folder.
    6. You should now have two files, ffmpeg and ffprobe, in your ~/audio-orchestrator-ffmpeg/bin/ folder.

    Screenshot of a Finder window showing the ffmpeg and ffprobe executable files ffmpeg and ffprobe executables with the required folder structure

  3. Authorise ffmpeg and ffprobe.

    1. Double-click the file called ffmpeg.
    2. You should see an error message "ffmpeg can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer". Click "OK".
    3. Go to System Preferences > Security and Privacy and click on the General tab.
    4. At the bottom of the window you will see a message saying that ffmpeg was blocked. Click "Open Anyway".
      • If you do not see this message in the General tab, double-click ffmpeg again.
      • You may have to click the "unlock" button and enter your password to be able to click "Open Anyway".
    5. If you see another popup that says “ffmpeg is from an unidentified developer. Are you sure you want to open it?”, click "Open". If you don’t get this popup, just go to the same file and double-click it again.
    6. When you double-click the file, a Terminal window may open. Keep the terminal open until you see a message confirming you can close it.
    7. Repeat authorisation steps (a) to (f) for the file called ffprobe.