How To Install R and RStudio on a Mac

I have fallen in love with the R language and toolset over the last few weeks. Getting outside my comfort zone and learning new tools can always spur creativity and the open-source community has a great many tools just waiting to be discovered. There is a free option for RStudio provides a powerful analysis tool to organizations without taking a large hit to the budget. This article will review setting R Studio and R on Mac OS

R is a statistical computing and graphics language available as free software under the GNU general public license. RStudio is a free and open-source integrated development environment that puts a user interface over the R command line back end. The combination of the two provides a powerful data analysis toolset.

The tools are more command line and have a programming style than a point-and-click tool such as Microsoft’s Excel. This tool would appeal to the power user analyst or a user with more of a programming background.

R has a Very Active Community

The trouble with adding open-source software to your workflow is to make sure that the tool is active and updated regularly. The main criteria I look for are based on how large and active the tool’s community is.

  • Do people have a passion for software?
  • Is there an active community?
  • When was the last update?
  • How often has the software been updated?

R has a large active community and provides functions and extensions to the tool set through external libraries which can be imported as you need and discover them.

Installing R & RStudio on a Mac

The installation on a Mac is simple and straight forward. There are 2 installations that are required, the R language and the RStudio front end. You can install a desktop or server version, however I find for personal use the desktop install and user experience easier to manage.

Step 1 – Installing R

RStudio requires R version 2.11.1 or higher, which can be downloaded here; The Comprehensive R Archive Network (rstudio.com). There will be 3 versions listed; select the “Download the R for (Mac) OS X” version by first selecting the option below.


This will take you to the binaries page. Download the R-3.2.3.pkg, which is the latest version as of this blog post.


The package will download and double click to install. The installation is straight forward, select ‘Continue’ and follow the prompts.


The R backend is now installed and we can move to installing RStudio.

Step 2 – Installing R Studio

The RStudio desktop version can be found here, RStudio – Download Page. There are an open-source version and a purchased version that includes various options and support.


The icon above takes you to the various desktop versions, select the Mac OS X version.


Once Downloaded, double click on the RStudio package.


Drag the RStudio icon to the Application Folder


On my machine, I have an older version, you can select ‘Replace’ to only keep the new version.


In Launch Pad, Type in R in finder, you will see both R and RStudio. Select RStudio and the following message is displayed, Select Open to run RStudio


Step3 – Try it out

RStudio is now displayed. You get the option to see a demo which will allow us to see if all is working correctly.
Type the following 2 lines of code in the console and press enter;

X = rnorm(200)


RStudio is now installed and ready for your analysis.

Resources available

There are many resources and tutorials that can be used to learn more about using the R language, I have listed a few below.

R Project for Statistical Computing, R: The R Project for Statistical Computing (r-project.org)

RStudio training materials, RStudio Education.

I hope you find these useful.


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  1. Dear Steve
    Many thanks for this post about installing R.
    After installing and starting Rstudio there was no demonstration on my computer.
    I tried your code Plot(x) which didn’t work – it says function plot not found.
    Do I have to install a package? Which one?

    Many thanks for your helfp

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