Is there any simple way to install Unison (text version), on OSX?

On Ubuntu it's 'sudo apt-get install unison'. And that's it.

I have read the following guide: http://mirrors.ustc.edu.cn/freebsd/distfiles/unison-2.45.28/unison-2.45.28-manual.pdf it's on page 8, lower half. But it strikes me as strange for they claim unix systems to need this complex procedure for installing as I have clearly seen none of this is necessary on Ubuntu. Therefore I wonder if there is not a comparably simple procedure available for OSX.

3 Answers 3


The difference is that you are using a pre-built package under Linux but are looking at the compile-it-yourself instructions (which would work both for Linux and for OS X).

There are at least two options to solve that:

  • Use one of the package managers available for OS X, e.g. Homebrew and install Unison by running

    brew install unison

    You will need Xcode installed as well for this

  • Follow the "Download" link on http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison and download pre-compiled versions from here.
  • Installing Homebrew appears to work fine, but when i do 'brew install unison' i get: curl: (7) Failed to connect to 2607:f470:8:64:5ea5::9: No route to host Error: Download failed: seas.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison//download/releases/… it is as if homebrew is trying to use that link and that link is dead.
    – john-jones
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 9:13
  • Same problem here, seems like the host itself is not available.
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 9:29
  • Ok so what is the easy way to install unison?
    – john-jones
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 11:59
  • Download the pre-compiled version :-)
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 12:18
  • That's not a simple way, but anyways the link is back to life so its all good.
    – john-jones
    Commented Aug 12, 2013 at 12:43

MacPorts works perfect for me if you don't mind the general MacPorts principle of keeping many system libraries in additional versions.

  1. Install MacPorts

  2. sudo port install unison

Macports will download binaries for most setups of OSX but can in some cases download source code and compile it. If it can use the binary which is on a Macports' server it will not matter that the source code server is down.

  • The general principle is there because using Apple's version can cause issues (some libraries have been several versions out of date) and easier to deal wit a consistent setup.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 0:14
  • @Mark: Thanks for the added information. I`m fully aware of this. Some people are surprised why Macports reinstalls libraries contrary to e.g. homebrew, I just wanted to point out the fact that an install might take some more space. The advantage o Macports clearly is the fact that it provides a consistent set of libraries and above all far more software since homebrew.
    – Martin
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 10:58

You can easily download binaries from http://alan.petitepomme.net/unison/index.html . This is a reliable source and is even linked to from the Unison project page.

This is the full GUI for Mac, once you run the app it will ask you to install the command line tools. When you allow this it will put unison in /usr/bin/ . From the command line you can then call the text version with the following command:

unison -ui text

This will then run unison with the default.prf that should be in the ~/Library/Application Support/Unison/ folder.


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