Installing RMS Express on Mac (Free Wine option)

Wine is a program that tricks Windows applications into thinking they are running in a full-blown Windows OS environment. It only loads bare-bones drivers and a Windows-like folder structure into a “Bottle”, so this is NOT a Windows emulator. It runs Windows apps directly in Mac OSX or Linux!


The newer versions of OSX (High Sierra, Mojave and Above) can introduce difficulties in using Wine – so I recommend you install Wine using this installer. If you want more information on the source of that installer, see this page.

This is because Mojave and above only use 64 bit code, but Wine uses a 32 bit core – so the above installer is necessary unless you use an older version of Mac OSX.


Once you’ve downloaded and unzipped Wine using the link above, put it in your Applications folder and double-click it. You may get a security alert saying it’s from an unknown developer. This is free software, so use it at your own risk by going into your System Preferences/Security & Privacy and clicking on the “Open Anyway” button.

Now you will see a wine glass icon in the upper right bar of OSX. Pull it down and select “Change Prefix”. A small window will appear. Click “Add…” and name your Wine prefix “Wine” and save it in your documents folder.

A new instance of Wine (aka a Wine Bottle) will appear in your Documents folder.

STEP 3: Load DotNET 3.5sp1 and Visual Basic into the Bottle

Pull down the wine glass icon at the top right of the OSX bar and select Winetricks.

A new window will appear with a long list of optional Windows components and common software that can be added to a Bottle. Scroll down and check the boxes next to “dotnet35sp1″ and ‘vb6run” then click on the “Apply” button at the bottom of the window.

After a download completes, a number of Windows installer screens will appear… always click yes or I agree, etc., to install the software. If it asks for your name, just enter any first name and click OK. When all installations are complete, you will get a message that says “Winetricks Applied Successfully”.

STEP 4: INSTALL RMS EXPRESS (and any other Windows software you like)

Download the latest version of Winlink Express (formerly RMS Express) here.  Just look for the latest version of Winlink Express and click on it.

Once it downloads, unzip it and do a “Get Info” on the .exe file by Control-Click on the icon (or highlighting the icon and selecting “Get Info” in the File pull-down menu). Change the “Open with:” pull-down to “Wine” and click on the “Change All…” button so all exe files will launch under Wine. Close the Get Info window.

Now double-click the Winlink Express Installer and if all went well the program will function! There are extra steps (below) for COM Port setup if you want rig control or access to a TNC and there are also more components needed if you plan to use VARA on HF. See below.


We will need a COM1 port for rig control or TNC access.

First we need to find out what our USB/Serial controller cable is named. Install the driver for your cable. Plug the cable in and bring up a terminal (Terminal app can be found in Applications/Utilities).

ls /dev

This command lists the contents of the “dev” directory. Scroll up and look for the name of the USB cable. Some common names are:





It WILL start with either tty or cu …so if you can’t find them in the long list, try the command:

ls /dev/cu*  or   ls /dev/tty*

Highlight the name and copy it (we will paste it in the next step)

This command will make a symlink (aka, an alias or shortcut) for COM1 in the dosdevices folder, which points to the USB device – usually ttyUSB0 on linux, for Mac see below:

Copy the name and paste below and use your user login name and bottle name in the bolded text (replacing the brackets):

ln -s /dev/[pasted name] /Users/[user name]/Documents/Wine/dosdevices/com1

Just to be clear, the entire bold part of the line above including the brackets will become the name you copied, and there will be a space between the last letter of the name you paste and “/Users/[user name]/Documents/Wine/dosdevices/com1” Once you hit the ENTER or RETURN key, that should link the device to the new virtual COM port.

Now add the COM port to the windows registry (this will make it appear in pull-down menus in RMS Express and other Windows programs running in that bottle).

sudo nano /Users/[user name]/Documents/Wine/system.reg

After “#arch-win32”, add the following lines (using the arrows keys to place the cursor where you want to copy/paste this) , save and exit.

[Hardware\Devicemap\Serialcomm] 1131331688


NOTE: If you need more than one COM port for different control cables, just repeat the process with COM2, COM3, etc.

To save these changes, hit the CONTROL and X keys, then tap Y and then tap ENTER.

If all went well, your COM port will work now! Please note that some recent changes to the Wine software MAY force your USB-serial device onto COM33 …so if the above steps didn’t work, look for COM33 in the COM Ports pull-down of your software and try that.


For VARA support, download these components:

and place them in /Users/[user name]/Documents/Wine/drive_c/windows/system32 and if any exist, replace them. VARA won’t work without these.

TROUBLESHOOTING: If you are still having problems installing RMS Express or getting VARA to launch within the program, check to make sure you didn’t skip a step in the DotNET and Visual Basic Runtime installations. You need all those components to be working first. Also be sure you are running Wine in a folder named “Wine” in your Documents folder for any of the above instructions to work. THIS IS CASE-SENSITIVE!

If DotNET won’t install or returns any errors at all, you may be better off using the commercial “Crossover Mac” software ($39) See here