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Introduction to Mac OS X Technology Overview


Who Should Read This Document
Organization of This Document
Getting the Xcode Tools
Reporting Bugs
See Also

Mac OS X is a modern operating system that combines a stable core with advanced technologies to help you deliver world-class products. The technologies in Mac OS X help you do everything from manage your data to display high-resolution graphics and multimedia content, all while delivering the consistency and ease of use that are hallmarks of the Macintosh experience. Knowing how to use these technologies can help streamline your own development process, while providing you access to key Mac OS X features.

Who Should Read This Document

Mac OS X Technology Overview is an essential guide for anyone looking to develop software for Mac OS X. It provides an overview of the technologies and tools that have an impact on the development process and provides links to relevant documents and other sources of information. You should use this document to do the following:

This document does not provide information about user-level system features or about features that have no impact on the software development process.

New developers should find this document useful for getting familiar with Mac OS X. Experienced developers can use it as a road map for exploring specific technologies and development techniques.

Organization of This Document

This document has the following chapters and appendixes:

Getting the Xcode Tools

Apple provides a comprehensive suite of developer tools for creating Mac OS X software. The Xcode Tools include applications to help you design, create, debug, and optimize your software. This tools suite also includes header files, sample code, and documentation for Apple technologies. You can download the Xcode Tools from the members area of the Apple Developer Connection (ADC) website ( Registration is required but free.

For additional information about the tools available for working with Mac OS X and its technologies, see “Mac OS X Developer Tools.”

Reporting Bugs

If you encounter bugs in Apple software or documentation, you are encouraged to report them to Apple. You can also file enhancement requests to indicate features you would like to see in future revisions of a product or document. To file bugs or enhancement requests, go to the Bug Reporting page of the ADC website, which is at the following URL:

You must have a valid ADC login name and password to file bugs. You can obtain a login name for free by following the instructions found on the Bug Reporting page.

See Also

This document does not provide in-depth information on any one technology. However, it does point to relevant documents in the ADC Reference Library. References of the form “<title> in <category> Documentation” refer to documents in specific sections of the reference library.

For information about new features introduced in different versions of Mac OS X, see What's New In Mac OS X.

The following sections list additional sources of information about Mac OS X and its technologies.

Developer Documentation

When you install Xcode, the installer places the tools you need for development as well as sample code and developer documentation on your local hard drive. The default installation directory for Xcode is /Developer but in Mac OS X v10.5 and later you can specify a custom installation directory if desired. (This document uses the term <Xcode> to represent the root directory of your Xcode installation.) The Installer application puts developer documentation into the following locations:

You can also get the latest documentation, release notes, Tech Notes, technical Q&As, and sample code from the ADC Reference Library ( All documents are available in HTML and most are also available in PDF format.

Information on BSD

Many developers who are new to Mac OS X are also new to BSD, an essential part of the operating system’s kernel environment. BSD (for Berkeley Software Distribution) is based on UNIX. Several excellent books on BSD and UNIX are available in bookstores.

You can also use the World Wide Web as a resource for information on BSD. Several organizations maintain websites with manuals, FAQs, and other sources of information on the subject. For information about related projects, see:

For more references, see the bibliography in Kernel Programming Guide.

Darwin and Open Source Development

Apple is the first major computer company to make open source development a key part of its ongoing operating system strategy. Apple has released the source code to virtually all of the components of Darwin to the developer community and continues to update the Darwin code base to include improvements as well as security updates, bug fixes, and other important changes.

Darwin consists of the Mac OS X kernel environment, BSD libraries, and BSD command environment. For more information about Darwin and what it contains, see “Darwin.” For detailed information about the kernel environment, see Kernel Programming Guide.

Information about the Darwin open source efforts is available at and at

Other Information on the Web

Apple maintains several websites where developers can go for general and technical information about Mac OS X.

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© 2004, 2008 Apple Inc. All Rights Reserved. (Last updated: 2008-10-15)

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