6 Beginner Resources For Learning Mac Programming

Bakari Chavanu 01-01-2010

macprogramming_10I’m determined to learn computer programming in my lifetime. Yes, it’s all a foreign language to me, but I so admire the work that developers do. I think they should receive Emmy awards or something. Many of them certainly don’t get the recognition (or financial backing) they deserve.


If you’re like me and are curious about learning Mac programming, you might be surprised to discover the amount of free resources to get you started.

Mac Automation Made Simple

macprogramming_9First off, if you’re totally new to programming, you should consider checking out Ben Waldie’s podcast series titled Mac Automation Made Simple (iTunes Store link.) His tutorials focus on AppleScript and Apple’s Automator program, both of which come installed with Mac OS X.

Waldie’s series includes great introductory topics for learning Mac programming, such as: Introducing AppleScript and Script Editor, Extending Automator with Third-Party Actions, Creating an Automator PDF Workflow, and Creating a Microsoft Word 2008 Automator Workflow.

AppleScript is probably one of the most basic programming languages that new users can learn. Start with the first chapter of the Apple Training series to introduce yourself to the program and the language.


Automator, on the other hand, requires no coding language. It’s a program for non-programmers, but it does help if you can think like a programmer, in terms of setting up logical workflows to achieve desired automations on your computer. If you’re an absolute beginner with no prior experience with say JavaScript, definitely start out with Apple’s Automator. My own Automator’s tutorial, Resizing Files Using Automator, will introduce you to the program.

Apple’s Developers Tools

learning mac programming

Apple itself provides a wealth of resources for programming. It’s part of the reason for so many iPhone apps and other applications being produced. After you sign up on their Developers Tools site, you can download PDF guides for learning languages like C, Objective-C, X-code, and Cocoa.

You can download a free copy of X-code (which includes the iPhone SDK) Interface Builder for free. These programs, along with Dashcode, also come installed on the Mac OS X installation disc, but they don’t install automatically.


iPhone Application Programming

iPhoneappcourseWith the popularity of iPhone apps, Standard University, I believe, was one of the first educational institutions to produce a course on iPhone development. The entire course is available as a video tutorial podcast series (iTunes Store link.)

It takes some time to work through, but it covers the tools and APIs required to build applications for the iPhone platform using the iPhone SDK. Handouts for the course, in the form of PDF’s, are included with the podcasts.

Topics include: Introduction to Mac OS X and Cocoa Touch, Using Objective-C, View Controller Basics, Table Views, How to Build an iPhone App That Doesn’t Suck, Debugging Tips, Optimzing OpenGL for iPhone, and Unit Testing.

Hello World



Nearly all courses will start off with a simple Hello World tutorial. After you download Apple’s coding applications, linked above, you might want to start out with this tutorial, An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to iPhone Development, to quickly introduce yourself to coding.

While learning Mac programming is not as simple as adding and dropping files, it’s not rocket science. It can be learned.

If you are a beginning developer, let us know how you got started.

Related topics: Applescript, Programming.

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  1. zdravko
    February 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    If you want to be software developer then you need xCode and start searching for examples on the internet and a good book.
    If you want to be Mac System Administrator you need ACSP and MIB certificates and to know more download iLearn: Advance ACSP and iLearn: MIB from App Store.
    I will suggest first start with MIB and get a real touch in MAC environment, and then go with Apple Certificate Support Pro.

  2. Loren
    February 1, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Nice enough article, but, yes, I'm looking for Cocoa programming on the Mac. Everyone wants to direct me to iOS, but that is an extra level of complication I don't want to deal with right now. How about some real programming on the Mac?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 2, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Loren, you and me both. Would love to find some time to get into some "real programming." I'll see if there's someone on the staff that can write something up. Have you tried Udemy?

  3. keyur patel
    February 24, 2010 at 1:10 am

    nice article, thanks

  4. Patrick
    February 1, 2010 at 10:59 am

    "Comments with abusive content, sarcastic grammar nitpicking, self-promotion will not be published" should be:
    "Comments with abusive content, sarcastic grammar nitpicking, or self-promotion will not be published".

    • Jenny
      February 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm

      Patrick, for that reason I find this site really hard to read as it doesn't flow and simple words are left out which is common for writers who know English as a second language.

  5. Bakari Chavanu
    January 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Andrea, you're right, Automator and AppleScript are not programming interfaces but they both are about as close to what most of us will ever get down in terms of Mac automation. But your point is well taken.

  6. Andrea Galli
    January 4, 2010 at 7:35 am

    NIce post, but if you want to talk about Mac programming I think you should at least mention Cocoa, Carbon and object-oriented programming in general. There are plenty of resources for beginners.

    Automator can hardly be considered a programming interface, and so is AppleScript, in my opinion.

    • Jenny
      February 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      I totally agree with you Andrea. Cocoa wasn't mentioned at all and automator isn't programming, that's why they call it automator.

  7. akshay kankanmel
    January 3, 2010 at 8:57 am

    with ALL due respect sir, i did not have any such intention...
    i'm sorry if i offended u...
    please keep writing more such fantastic articles, i really like them a lot...

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

      Akshay, I wasn't really offended. I just try to remind readers from time to time that the free content they receive online comes through the hard work and time of content producers. I and the editors of this site strive to make MUO a truly professional site, but we're not perfect and occasionally because we produce so much content we will miss mistakes. But I felt as if the mistake you called us out on is not major enough to warrant comment. But apology accepted. And thank you for being a loyal reader.

  8. Bakari Chavanu
    January 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    And that is what you call "spelling mistakes?" I believe it's called a typo. The title is used again in the next paragraph without a typo. But anyway, I apologize that a few words out a 500-word article, written for a site that doesn't cost you or others a dime to read is a cause for comment.

    • Peter Mare
      May 4, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      That was an awesome reply to the typo, thank you so much for writing this article. I am aspiring beginning programer looking to dive into Mac applications as a hobby using Xcode and C++ compiler, but with out any experience in programing and almost zero budget for classroom instruction and lack of time to a school, everything that I am finding online has to do with either windows or open source IDE's and compilers that do not follow the Xcode method.

  9. Bakari Chavanu
    January 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    akshay, what spelling mistakes are you referring to?

    • akshay kankanmel
      January 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      wow u people do read comments...
      the first bold heading says "Mac Automation Mad Simple"
      i think it should have been "Mac Automation Made Simple"...

  10. akshay kankanmeli
    January 2, 2010 at 12:34 am

    truly an awesome post,i really it...
    but why is it that this article hasn't been checked for spelling mistakes??

  11. FGI
    January 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Too bad I need an Apple computer for doing iPhone development.