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How to install Reaper, Osara, and SWS on Mac running Voiceover.
Last updated: July 1, 2021 at 14:28 pm
If you find something incorrect throughout these instructions, please leave a comment or use the contact link at the top of this page.
Let’s grab all the stuff we need.
For the latest Reaper application, visit the
Locate the macOS heading.
For MacOS earlier than Catalina or Big Sur, click on the first available download, macOS 64-bit.
(I do sincerely hope that your system is 64bit. Just saying’)
For Catalina and Big Sur, locate the download link that sounds something like:
macOS 10.15+ Catalina/Big Sur (Notarized)
And download that.
Download the Osara extension
Next, you need to download Osara by going to the Osara Reaper accessibility page
This page has all the information about Osara that you will ever need and the instructions you need to download and install Osara. I recommend doing some reading. If you are at all interested in what Osara is, what it does, and who created it and why, learn it all here.
Remember: Good people work really hard to make Reaper work for us and they keep this honestly very complicated extension alive and in constant development. I can’t speak enough about how impressive the Osara team is. Give them the credit they are due. “OSARA has taken countless hours of time to develop but is free to use.
Next, locate the
Osara snapshots link.
Once on that page, the easiest way to find the download is to search the page for the words: “for mac”. This will bring you directly to the download link for the current version of Osara.
One thing to remember is that Osara really is in constant development and this link changes frequently. It is a very good idea to keep Osara up to date. There are no notifications to let you know that there is a new version available. Chances are that if you update Reaper, Osara will not be far behind.
Download the SWS extension
This bundle of files can be downloaded from the
SWS extension page.
On this page, locate the “macOS” heading and select the
“DOWNLOAD X64” link
Downloads are done. Time to crack open your download folder with Command Option L and continue.
Installing the Reaper application
Open the Reaper disk image file you downloaded.
Copy the Reaper Application file.
Open applications with Shift Command A and paste with Command V.
Once the copying is done, go ahead and open the newly pasted Reaper application file with Command O.
This will take you through a standard Mac installation procedure which doesn’t present anything out of the ordinary and don’t need to be explained here.
Once the installation is done, Reaper should appear in your dock and you can open it from there.
If you have plugins installed on your system, this may take a while. Reaper will scan all the usual places and it won’t necessarily tell you what it’s doing. With some VO navigation you will hear that scanning is in progress, of something like it. Either way, it’ll be busy for a bit.
Once that is done, Reaper will ask you to select an audio device. This is a good time to do that so click the yes button to open the Reaper preferences.
You will land in a tree-view, which on the mac is called a table for some reason. You are focused on devices. Navigate into that with VO arrow keys and one of the very first options you find is the audio device selection list box. Pick your preferred device and select it with return. Now hit return again to okay your changes and close the preferences dialog.
Don’t worry, you will see much of those preferences in the future. For now, there’s nothing that needs to be done.
You can shut down Reaper for now.
There are a couple of things left to do. So get back to your downloads folder.
Installing the Osara extension
These instructions are taken directly from
the Osara Reaper accessibility page:
Because OSARA is an extension (not a standalone application) and also needs to install a key map, the installation process is a little different to most Mac applications. Please follow these instructions to install it:
Open the OSARA disk image file you downloaded.
Open the “Install OSARA.command” file. On macOS Catalina and later, you have to choose open from the context menu, accessed with VO+Shift+M.
Follow the instructions. If you wish to replace the existing key map with the OSARA key map (which is recommended), answer yes when prompted. A backup of your existing key map will be made in Reaper’s KeyMaps folder.
The installer leaves a terminal window open. It can be closed with Command+Q.
Press command+e to eject the disk image.
Note that if you do forget to use the context menu to open the terminal script, you will be informed that it cannot be opened. Simply click cancel in that prompt. It will not hurt anything. Once opening the script via the context menu, you will be informed again that there is a problem but this time you have the option to choose the “open” button. Do that, all is well.
Installing the SWS extension
Open the SWS disk image file you downloaded.
Select and Copy everything in that folder with Command A and Command C respectively.
Open Reaper and go to the options menu.
Locate: “Show Reaper resource path in explorer/finder” and hit return.
In the folder that opens, hit the letter “u” to locate the “user plugins” folder. Open it with Command O and press command V to paste
Close all stray windows, close any leftover disc image volumes with Command E, and restart Reaper.
Test your Reaper
Now let’s see if this works. There are two simple tests we can perform to check this.
First, let’s make sure Osara is running. Second, we will check that the sws extension is active and running as it should.
With Reaper newly opened, you are in an empty project with no tracks. When you move the up and down arrows, which are the shortcuts to move between tracks in Reaper, Osara should say: “No tracks.” Because there are no tracks and that is the infomation we need from Osara.
This means that Osara is doing its thing.
If you hear nothing when pressing the arrow keys, something has gone wrong somewhere and Osara is not running.
Assuming that Osara is running, we can move on to test the SWS extension.
Create a new track with Command T.
In the dialog, give the track a name if you want and hit return. This track is for testing purposes only so it doesn’t matter.
Why are we doing this?
One of the many functions that sws performs for you is to enable you to change the volume of a track and let you know what happens as you do.
Using the shortcut Shift + Option and up or down arrows will change the track volume in 1db increments. It will also speak the volume as it changes.
If the spoken feedback does not change and it keeps saying 0db when you use the shortcut, then something has gone wrong and SWS is not running properly.
However, if the numbers do change as you change the volume with the shortcut, all is well with SWS.
Limited troubleshooting, final comments and useful resources
This post doesn’t cover any real troubleshooting. First of all, I’m not really qualified. Second, the list of things that could go wrong on a system working with audio is far beyond anything I could put together or even reference properly.
All I can recommend when something doesn’t seem to work is to restart Reaper, perhaps restarting your mac as that really doesn’t hurt to do once in a blue moon, and run the Osara and SWS installations again. Or maybe just reinstall Reaper. It’s quick enough to do and it won’t hurt anything.
If it still doesn’t work, I can recommend asking on the RWP (Reaper Without Peepers) mailing list.
You can join the list by sending an empty email to
Most questions can probably be answered by a visit to the
Reaper accessibility wiki page
A note of caution: The Reaper wiki can become a rabbit-hole difficult to escape. 🙂
Remember, have fun, don’t fear the reaper, and know that with Reaper and the Reaper community you are in good hands and the possibilities are endless.
Jenny K. Brennan
House of Imp Studio 2021