Installing & Running

To make sure Rack can run on your computer, see Rack 2 System Requirements.

Installing Rack

Download Rack on the VCV Rack product page.

Installing on Mac

Double-click on the installer and follow the on-screen steps.

Launch VCV Rack from the Applications folder.

Installing on Windows

Run the installer and follow the on-screen steps.

In the Rack Pro installer, you may set a custom VST path during the installation process.

Launch VCV Rack from the desktop icon or start menu item.

Installing on Linux

Unzip the ZIP file. Make sure zenity is installed on your system.

Open Rack’s folder and double click the Rack binary. Or with the command-line, cd into Rack’s folder and run ./Rack.

Installing Rack plugins

Plugins extend VCV Rack’s functionality by adding one or more modules to use in your patch. Plugins are typically installed via the VCV Library. See the VCV Library Instructions section at the bottom of the VCV Library page.

If your computer is offline, you may download plugins using another computer and transfer <Rack user folder>/plugins-<OS>-<CPU>/ (See Where is the “Rack user folder”?) to the offline computer. Downloading plugins directly from the VCV Library is not supported at this time.

Installing plugins not available on the VCV Library

Install third-party plugins at your own risk. Like VST plugins, installing plugins from unknown sources may compromise your computer and personal information.

Plugins for Rack are distributed as .vcvplugin files. Download the plugin package from the vendor’s website to <Rack user folder>/plugins-<OS>-<CPU>/ (See Where is the “Rack user folder”?). Rack will extract and load the plugin upon launch.

Note: The “major” version number (e.g. the 2 in v2.3.4) must match the major version number of Rack. See ABI/API Version.

Command line usage

To launch Rack from the command line, cd into Rack’s folder, and run ./Rack, optionally with the following options.

  • <patch filename>: Loads a patch file.
  • -s / --system <Rack system folder>: Sets Rack’s system folder, containing read-only program resources. Defaults to
    • MacOS: <app bundle path>/Contents/Resources
    • Windows: install location, such as C:\Program Files\VCV\Rack
    • Linux: current working directory
  • -u / --user <Rack user folder>: Sets Rack’s user folder, containing settings, plugins, and patches. See Where is the “Rack user folder”? for the default location.
  • -d / --dev: Enables development mode. This sets the system and user folders to the current working directory, uses the terminal (stderr) for logging, and disables Rack’s Library menu to prevent overwriting plugins.
  • -h / --headless: Launches the autosaved patch with no window. Great for generative patches in museum exhibits. Patch can be controlled with MIDI.
  • -a / --safe: Launches Rack with no plugins or autosave patch. Useful for testing.
  • -t / --screenshot <zoom percentage>: Captures screenshots of all installed modules and saves each to <Rack user folder>/screenshots/<plugin slug>/<module slug>.png.
  • -v / --version: Prints Rack version and exits.

You may also set the RACK_SYSTEM_DIR or RACK_USER_DIR environment variables to override these locations.