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Compilation of SPM on macOS

This page describes the compilation of SPM MEX files on macOS.


If you are using macOS Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura or Sonoma and have apparent problems with the MEX files provided with SPM, check the Troubleshooting section first as it is very likely you do not need to recompile the MEX files.

To compile SPM MEX files, you need to have Apple’s development environment Xcode installed.

You also need to have the mex executable in your system path. To do so, type the following in a Terminal:

export PATH=/Applications/$PATH
with the appropriate path where MATLAB is installed

If you get errors such as Bad : modifier in $ (/), this is because the instructions are given for a bash Terminal while you are using a tcsh Terminal. The equivalent commands are:

setenv PATH /Applications/${PATH}

An alternative is to use the MEXBIN environment variable when invoking make:

make MEXBIN=/Applications/


In a Terminal, from the src folder of your SPM installation, type:

cd /Users/login/spm/src
make distclean
make && make install
make external-distclean
make external && make external-install

This will generate *.mexmaci64 MEX files. To generate *.mexmaca64 MEX files, add PLATFORM=arm64 to the commands above.


macOS Catalina, Big Sur, Monterey, Ventura, Sonoma

If you have issues with MEX files on macOS with one of these errors:

"*.mexmaci64" cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified.
macOS cannot verify that this app is free from malware
Code signature not valid for use in process using Library Validation: library load disallowed by system policy
open a Terminal, cd to the SPM directory and type:
find . -name "*.mexmaci64" -exec xattr -d {} \;

If it doesn’t work, please try this equivalent alternative, replacing SPM_PATH with the path of your SPM installation:

sudo xattr -r -d SPM_PATH
sudo find SPM_PATH -name "*.mexmaci64" -exec spctl --add {} \;

If you are using Apple Silicon (ARM), make sure to edit the command lines so that it targets .mexmaca64 files.

xcrun: error: SDK "macosx10.14.1" cannot be located error

If you get errors such as xcrun: error: SDK "macosx10.14.1" cannot be located while compiling, execute the following before compilation:

sudo xcode-select --switch /Applications/

Java Exception and abrupt exit on Mac OS X version 10.10 Yosemite

If you get MATLAB issues with Yosemite, see the following bug report for a patch:

This is pdfTeX, Version ... error

If you get an error message such as:

mex -O -c spm_vol_utils.c -DSPM_UNSIGNED_CHAR
  mex: unrecognized option `-O' 
  mex: unrecognized option `-c'
This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.3-1.40.12 (TeX Live 2011)
restricted \write18 enabled.
entering extended mode
This is MeX Version 1.05 18 XII 1993 (B. Jackowski & M. Ry\'cko)  
  ! You can't use `macro parameter character #' in vertical mode.
this is due to a conflict between MATLAB mex and a LaTeX command with the same name. Edit src/Makefile.var and mention the full path when referring to MEXBIN
MEXBIN = /Applications/
or change PATH accordingly.

Slowdown when using graphical inputs

This seems to happen when a window manager for macOS is installed (Magnet or Tiles), see also this.