Macs in Chemistry

Insanely Great Science

Lots of updates from Apple


Mac OS X 10.12.4 improves the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, and is recommended for all users. This update:

  • Adds Night Shift for automatically shifting the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum after dark.
  • Adds Siri support for cricket scores 😄, schedules, and player rosters from the Indian Premier League and International Cricket Council.
  • Adds Dictation support for Shanghainese.
  • Improves right-to-left language support for the Touch Bar, toolbar, and visual tab picker in Safari.
  • Resolves several PDF rendering and annotation issues in Preview.
  • Improves the visibility of the subject line when using Conversation View in Mail.
  • Fixes an issue that may prevent content from appearing in Mail messages.
  • Adds support for more digital camera RAW formats.

Xcode 8.3 brings faster builds for large projects containing both Objective C and Swift. Siri support in iOS simulator. Xcode 8.3 no longer supports Swift 2.3 so you will need to update.

Also updates for Pages, Keynote and Numbers.


BBEdit Updated


My favourite text editor BBEdit has just been updated. BBEdit 11.6.3 requires Mac OS X 10.9.5 or later, and is compatible with macOS 10.12 "Sierra". This update contains no new features but includes a number of bug fixes.

BBEdit is my Swiss army knife for opening and editing all sorts of text based file formats, other text editors are available.


Scientific Applications under Sierra (Update 14)


Whilst there are many sites that track the compatibility on common desktop applications, it is often difficult to find out information about scientific applications. I’ll update the list regularly and feel free to send in information.

When I compiled a similar lists for Yosemite and El Capitan they proved very popular with 13,000 page views, I hope this page is similarly useful.

4Peaks no reported issues

Avogadro all seems OK

BBEdit version 11.6.2 and newer are compatible, recommend against using earlier versions

Brainsight requires version 2.3.3 for full compatibility with 10.12 Sierra. You could note too that 2.0 through 2.2.x will never work because 10.12 removed support for garbage collected applications. 2.3.x uses ARC

ChemDraw the official line is that it is not supported, even under El Capitan there were reports of copy/paste issues. One user reports “ChemDraw 15 is working fine for me. copy/paste, everything without issues”.

ChemDoodle no reported issues

CrystalMaker “We are pleased to confirm that all our latest software runs fine on macOS “Sierra”, as well as OS X 10.11 “El Capitan”, 10.10 “Yosemite”, and earlier.”

CYLview app launcher (icon on the desktop or the dock) does not work need to start using “Terminal”

DataDesk Data Desk 8 for Mac runs on OS X 10.7 up to 10.12

DataWarrior requires Java installation

DEVONagent has been updated to version 3.9.5 to support Sierra, in addition this update brings support for Qwant. DEVONthink has also been updated for Sierra.

EndNote From Endnote (Thomson Reuters) version 7: Message for Mac user planning to update to Sierra: In preparation for Apple's release of macOS Sierra on September 20, we have been testing various versions of EndNote. Through our testing, we discovered some issues with the EndNote PDF viewer. These issues have been reported to Apple, but in the meantime, we recommend that you DO NOT upgrade to macOS Sierra.

EnzymeX no reported issues

Evernote a bug in some versions of Evernote for Mac that can cause images and other attachments to be deleted from a note under specific conditions. We've released an updated version of Evernote for Mac, version 6.9.1, to resolve this.

Findings no reported issues

Fortran users will be happy to hear there are no reported issues with FTranProjectBuilder

GAMESS no reported issues.

Homebrew, after every update it is worth checking your homebrew installation.

Username$ brew doctor
Please note that these warnings are just used to help the Homebrew maintainers
with debugging if you file an issue. If everything you use Homebrew for is
working fine: please don't worry and just ignore them. Thanks!

Warning: /usr/local is not writable.

You should probably change the ownership and permissions of /usr/local
back to your user account.
  sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local

Warning: /usr/local is not writable.
Even if this directory was writable when you installed Homebrew, other
software may change permissions on this directory. For example, upgrading
to OS X El Capitan has been known to do this. Some versions of the
"InstantOn" component of Airfoil or running Cocktail cleanup/optimizations
are known to do this as well.

You should probably change the ownership and permissions of /usr/local
back to your user account.
sudo chown -R $(whoami) /usr/local

Once corrected you can then type

brew update
brew upgrade

You may get this error

$brew update
/usr/local/Library/ line 32: /usr/local/Library/ENV/scm/git: No such file or directory

simply retyping brew update seems to resolve the issue

If you have previously installed Openbabel using

brew install mcs07/cheminformatics/open-babel --HEAD

The "--HEAD" part means install the latest development version from GitHub. The latest version of OpenBabel is now available so type

brew uninstall mcs07/cheminformatics/open-babel
Uninstalling /usr/local/Cellar/open-babel/HEAD... (309 files, 14.6M)
brew install mcs07/cheminformatics/open-babel

You can check you have the latest version installed by type this in a Terminal window

obabel -V
Open Babel 2.4.0 -- Sep 24 2016 -- 14:01:18

iBabel seems to work fine with the latest version of OpenBabel under Sierra. One advantage to updating to OpenBabel 2.4.0 is that previews now work with Quicklook.


IDL does run under Sierra but does require some tuning. Detailed instructions here

iPython Notebook all working fine

Lego Mindstorms At the moment everything seems to be running really great on Sierra. However, please let you readers know they are welcome to contact us via the website way you did if they run into any errors. We'd be happy to solve them!

Manuscripts no reported issues

MarvinSketch I had to reinstall Java for Mac OSX this is the last version of Java Apple created to support legacy applications, similarly MarvinSpace and MarvinView.

Matlab in general appears to be fine except for certain language localisations these languages a patch is available for download. A patch is also available for MATLAB Runtime R2016b.

Mathematica 11.0.1 has been compatibility tested with macOS Sierra and you should not run into any OS-specific compatibility issues. The font-panel is disabled, but we are actively working to address this as soon as possible.

Mendeley no issues reported

MOE working fine, XQuartz did not need reinstalling. However the MOE app launcher (icon on the desktop or the dock) does not work because Apple changed some fundamental system components which affects lots of programs not specifically compiled for the newest MacOSXs. Also you cannot double click on a file to open it in MOE. You can still start MOE from the command line


It then works perfectly. Update, just had an email from CCG support, The problem with the MOE app launcher on MacOSX Sierra has been fixed in the MOE 2016 release.

MOPAC all seems to be working fine.

osra crashed with error abort trap: 6. I uninstalled using brew then reinstalled

brew uninstall osra
Uninstalling /usr/local/Cellar/osra/2.0.1... (7 files, 1.6M)
brew install osra

Then worked fine

Pandoc depends on llvm-3.5, not supported on Sierra. Llvm-3.9 is supported, installation using Homebrew seems to be OK.

Papers Mac 3.4.7 (527) is now available! Fixes a couple of problems under Sierra. A crash that can occur when switching PDFs, The search in PDF functionality is restored

R latest version (3.3.1) all seems fine

rdkit installed using home-brew works fine.

Readcube Version 2.22.13732 is Mac OS Sierra (v10.12) compatibility update.

Scansnap Note for using ScanSnap or ScanSnap Applications on macOS Sierra In order to avoid the ScanSnap compatibility problems, please do not use ScanSnap or ScanSnap applications on macOS Sierra in the following manner as doing so may cause some pages to be deleted or to become blank. Do not use [ScanSnap Organizer], [ScanSnap Merge Pages], or [CardMinder] Do not use Excellent mode when scanning A3 (11.7 in. x 16.5 in.) documents No image data will be lost nor any blank pages produced when content that has been scanned in the A4 (8.3 in. x 11.7 in.), Letter (8.5 in. x 11 in.), Legal (8.5 in. x 14 in.), or smaller sizes is saved.

Schrodinger a reader sent in this response. We received your query regarding MacOS Sierra. Unfortunately our current, 2016-3 release, do not yet support MacOS Sierra but we have plans to include support for this OS for the upcoming 2016-4 release of our software.

SeeSAR version 5.3 now, 5.4 will come out shortly. No compatibility issues observed/reported.

Studies no reported issues

UCSF Chimera version 1.11.1 seems to be working fine

Wizard worked great with the developer pre-releases, no reported issues

Vortex no problems so far, the embedded chemical drawing app Elemental appears to have no issues.

XQuartz did not require reinstallation :-) however there are reports of an intermittent display not found error when launching apps from a Linux box.

Allow applications downloaded from anywhere in macOS Sierra, if you open the security panel in the Settings the default options in Sierra are as shown below. There is no longer the option to open applications from Anywhere.


Apple have removed this function on macOS Sierra, but you can re-enable it running this in terminal

sudo spctl --master-disable


You can restore it back to the default setting using

sudo spctl --master-enable

I’ll add more updates later.


ChemDraw 16 Review


There is a review of ChemDraw 16 over on Chemistry and Computers.

A key feature is found-trip editing, wherein a user could make a drawing in one application, copy and paste the drawing into another application, and then later copy and paste back into the original application, and still be able to edit the drawing. Generations of Mac users relied on this feature to go from applications like ChemDraw into PowerPoint and back again. This has been has been regularly broken as we had various updates to Mac oSX, Microsoft Office, iWork and ChemDraw. It sounds like some interoperability has returned but it may depend on which versions of the various components you are running.

Now updated to include Mac OSX Sierra, ChemDraw 16 works and round-trip editing using Word 2011 still works! Unfortunately round-trip editing appears to be broken in Pages, Keynote and Numbers.


MOE 2016.08 released


Chemical Computing Group have just announced an update to MOE. This release has fixed a couple of Mac OSX 10.12 (Sierra) issues but also brings a host of new features.

  • MOEsaic: Web-Application for Ligand Analytics
  • Spectral Analysis for Structure Determination
  • Enhanced Protein Patch Analyzer
  • Integrated Antibody Project Database and Antibody Homology Modeler
  • Small Footprint MOE to Facilitate Large Scale Deployments
  • Physical and Virtual Rendering of Structures

A more detailed description of the new and enhanced features in MOE 2016.08 can be found at


Applescript & ASObjC ’Things to watch out for’ list


Brian Christmas has compiled an absolutely invaluable list of tips and samples of code for those using AppleScript or AppleScriptObjC. He has kindly allowed me to host a page containing all these tips

Applescript & ASObjC ’Things to watch out for’ list.

This list is a great resource for those just starting out but will also be invaluable for more experienced scripters.

If you would like to contribute probably the best way is to subscribe to one of the Apple mailing lists

There is a page of other AppleScript Resources here.