Help (for Apple Mac users)

This page provides help for playing the music clips in Apple Mac systems (there are separate pages for Windows and Linux/Unix users). There's also a separate page for help with printing. If your problem isn't solved by the advice on this page, feel free to mail me.
To play the sound clips, you need an audio or media player capable of handling OGG and M3U file formats. Unfortunately, neither Apple nor Microsoft are keen to facilitate the use of OGG, which outperforms their own proprietory formats, and in consequence neither QuickTime/iTunes nor Windows Media Player have native OGG support. The good news is that you can add OGG support to these players by using plug-ins, or indeed by-pass them altogether by downloading one of many alternative audio players. This page contains advice on what to download, how to install it and how to configure it, plus advice on several other potential problems.
Audio players and plug-ins
-  Audio players and plug-ins for Apple Mac (quick descriptions and download links)
-  Configuring MIME Types
-  The wrong player starts when I try to play a clip
-  My browser displays an internet address when I try to play a clip
-  My browser downloads the file instead of playing it
-  Playback takes a long time to start
-  The sound keeps breaking up
-  Playback doesn't start at all

Audio players and plug-ins for Apple Mac

As with Windows, on the Mac there are two steps to installing a player or plug-in capable of reading M3U and OGG audio files. The first is to download and install the software (a program or plug-in). The second is to ensure that the necessary file associations (MIME Types) are correctly set; follow the instructions in Configuring MIME Types, further down this page.

Some recommended players and plug-ins are listed below, together with brief descriptions, download links and installation instructions. For those running MacOS 9, MacOS X and up, the most elegant solution is to install an OGG plug-in for QuickTime. For MacOS 8.5, Winamp|Mac .71 might work, though there's precious little information about it on the internet, while on MacOS 8.6, Audion may or may not work. Don't bank on getting iTunes even to play OGGs, never mind streamed from this site, although it is theoretically possible. I've no idea about other MacOS versions - feel free to help me out. Whatever you choose, ensure that your MacOS is compatible with the player or plug-in - details are given below. More players can be found at the OGG Vorbis website.

 Audion 3.0

2.3 Mb
Requirements: MacOS 8.6+, MacOS X 10.0+
Feature-packed player/encoder with visualisations and plug-ins, handling OGG, WAV, MP3 and AIFF files, Icecast and Shoutcast streams. Also copies and burns CDs. Free 15-day trial. Designed for MacOS X 10.0 - although it claims to work on MacOS 8.6+, reports of general weirdness don't recommend it. Either way, ensure you download the correct version. For help configuring your browser, see Audion's help page. Once you're done, don't forget to configure the MIME type for M3U files.


 iTunes plug-ins (?)

276/305 Kb
Requirements: MacOS X, QuickTime 6.0.2+
iTunes appears to be a dead loss for streaming OGG files, even with these two "iTunes compatible OGG plugins for QuickTime 6.0.2+" (for iTunes 3 and iTunes 4). Play with them if you like, but don't expect too much - they do work for QuickTime, however.


 QuickTime plug-ins (

276 Kb
Requirements: MacOS 9 or MacOS X, QuickTime 6.02+
The same two plug-ins as for iTunes, above, with the difference that they work well for QuickTime. The one for iTunes 3 runs under MacOS X with QuickTime 6.0.2, and possibly also MacOS 9 with QuickTime 6.0.2. The iTunes 4 version runs under Mac OS X 10.2+ with QuickTime 6.2+. Download the plug-in and drop it into the /Library/QuickTime folder. Once you're done, don't forget to configure the MIME type for M3U files.


 QuickTime plug-ins (

148-172 Kb
Requirements: MacOS 9 or MacOS 10, QuickTime 6.02+, possibly also 5
There are two "Ogg Vorbis" plug-ins for QuickTime, for MacOS 9 and MacOS X respectively. They work with QuickTime versions 6.0.2+, possibly also with 5. The latest are MacOS9-OggVorbis.sit for MacOS 9 (148 Kb), and MacOSX-OggVorbis.sit for MacOS X (172 Kb). Once you're done, don't forget to configure the MIME type for M3U files.



3.1 Mb
Requirements: MacOS X 10.2+
Easy to use, with a fresh look and feel, this player supports OGG, MP3, Shoutcast and Icecast streams, audio CDs and playlists. Skinnable interface, low CPU usage. Free to use; $12.50 gets rid of the nag screens. Once you're done, don't forget to configure the MIME type for M3U files.


 Winamp|Mac .71

174 Kb
Requirements: MacOS 8.5+
This has been brewing for years and still isn't ready, though perhaps the recent release of Winamp 5 for Windows will speed things up a little. The download is currently an unofficial pre-release, and may not yet support OGG. One to watch, though. Once you're done, don't forget to configure the MIME type for M3U files.



Configuring MIME Types

After installing the player or plug-in, you may need to correctly configure M3U file MIME Types. There are several ways of doing this (try one of the first three tips). If you have RealPlayer/RealOne or Microsoft Media Player installed, that may be a cause of woe - see the fourth and fifth tips.

1  File Exchange Control Panel

Open the File Exchange Control Panel, choose "PC Exchange" and look for M3U in the list. Delete all instances of it, then create a New instance. In the new window, choose the program you want to associate with M3U files (eg. QuickTime), and in the "document type" menu, choose M3U. The correct MIME type is audio/x-mpegurl. Click "OK" and you're done. Test your set-up with these talented red-banded rubber frogs, residents of Arabuko-Sokoke forest in Kenya.

2  Internet Control Panel

You can achieve the same result by going through the Internet Control Panel.

3  Manually changing MIME Types

An alternative technique (MacOS X only?) is to find an M3U file and click on it, then hit Command-I to pull up the information window (you can easily create an M3U file for this purpose - simply save a TXT file containing the full path of a sound file, eg. c:\music\sound.ogg or, and change the extension from TXT to M3U). Expand the "Open With" section and select whichever player you'd like to open M3U files (the player has to be able to play OGG files though). Then select the "Change All" button to make sure that your chosen player becomes the default M3U player. Our virtuoso swamp performers drool in anticipation of your success...

4  Tame RealPlayer

Normally, one of the steps above should suffice. But in case things go pear-shaped when you click on a link to a sound clip like this tuneful chorus of red-banded rubber frogs from Kenya's Arabuko-Sokoke forest, even though you've set up he MIME Types, then chances are that some other program is hogging the M3U file association. Notorious for doing this is the shockingly invasive RealPlayer (RealOne in its current incarnation). So, if you this installed, then that's almost certainly the cause of your woes, as by default it reclaims file associations without telling you. In particular, it steals the M3U file type. In theory, you should be able to make it release its claws by deleting all instances of M3U through the File Exchange Control Panel, but should the problem persist, there may be a setting in the program itself. In the Windows version, you have to start RealPlayer/RealOne, choose "Options" (may not be visible in Compact mode), then "Preferences" , then the "Upgrade" tab. In "RealNetworks' media types", uncheck "Reclaim RealNetworks' Media Types", then click on "Settings". Uncheck "M3U" and "MP3", press "OK" and "OK" again, and close the program. Now test the frogs. Not a croak? The next tip might put the song back into them...

5  Tame Microsoft Media Player

The two behemoths (RealNetworks and Microsoft) may be at legal loggerheads at present, but both dish up equally invasive and annoying players. Microsoft's Mac version of the Windows Media Player is another MIME Type hogger. I'm not sure how it works in Macs, but in Windows, the setting to stop it claiming MIME Types on system start up is located as follows: open the Media Player, choose "View", then "Options...", then "Formats". Ensure that "MP3 Format Sound" is not checked, press "OK" and close the program. Now repeat the process described in tips 1, 2 or 3 above, and try our tuneful pond-dwelling friends again. Still no joyful chorus? Gadzooks! You win the right to email me with your woes. I'll do my best to help you out, but not having a Mac to hand, I can't promise anything...


Problems: the wrong player starts when I try to play a clip

If, having installing a new audio player or plug-in and correctly associated M3U files, your browser starts the wrong player when you click on a link to a sound clip like these frogs and yet you've correctly set up the M3U file extension, chances are that you've missed an instance of the M3U files. Repeat tip 1 of Configuring MIME Types, above. If still no joy, see whether your preferred audio player has an option for associating M3U file types.


Problems: my browser displays an internet address when I try to play a clip

This is because the "MIME Type" for M3U files is incorrectly set up on your computer, or is absent. To correct the problem, follow the instructions in steps 1, 2 or 3 of Configuring MIME Types, above.


Problems: my browser downloads the file instead of playing it

Then the "MIME Type" for M3U files needs to be reset. To do this, you'll first have to remove the existing MIME Type for M3U files, and then reassociate it: follow tip 1 of Configuring MIME Types, above, and ensure that you remove all instances of M3U files before creating a new one. Once you're through, ensure that you choose the option to "Play" or "Open" the file next time you try to play a sound clip.


Problems: playback takes a long time to start

This is normal behaviour, so long as your audio player keeps you waiting for less than 20 seconds or so, because the player may need time to "buffer" the first part of the sound clip in its memory before playback. If the wait is really too long and you think your connection is okay, verify your player's buffering options and reduce the buffering time or size required before playback starts.


Problems: the sound keeps breaking up

First, check that you're trying to play the low-quality clips instead of the high-quality ones. If you're still having problems with the low-quality clips, it's more than likely a problem with your internet connection (a noisy telephone line is the main culprit), and sadly there's not much that you can do about it. Still, you could try connecting at the site's off-peak times, ideally between midnight-7am EST (4am-12am GMT). Other than that, you could also check your memory usage, and disable all those run-in-the-background programs like email messengers and other gizmos that you really don't need.


Problems: playback doesn't start at all

If your media player starts up when you try to play a sound clip but then does nothing, there are two possible causes, both equally likely: one is that firewall software installed on your computer or on the local network you're using doesn't allow files to be streamed. This is most likely to occur if you're connecting from a computer at your place of work (some companies understandably don't want their staff chewing up their bandwidth by downloading music files). No solution other than connecting from another location. The other possible cause is that a program that can't play OGG files is associated with the M3U file type, meaning that it starts when you click the link but then gets all confused and does nothing. The usual culprits are RealPlayer/RealOne and Microsoft's Media Player - see tips 4 and 5 in Configuring MIME Types. You will need a player that can read OGG files; see the list of players and plug-ins, also up the page.

If nothing at all happens when you try to play a sound clip (try our old friends the red-banded rubber frogs: no sound, no media player starting, and no response or error message from your browser), then you'll have to Configure MIME Types for M3U files (assuming you actually have a player installed).


Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

also by Jens Finke
Chasing the Lizard's Tail - across the Sahara by bicycle - fine art photography