Using ESP8266 with Arduino on Mac

The ESP8266 is a microcontroller with build in hardware for Wifi. There are a lot of different module types of the ESP8266. The most popular are the ESP-01 and the ESP-12E.

  • ESP-01 can be bought for less than 2€ on eBay. It’s very tiny and only two digital IO-Ports can be used. But for a lot of projects that’s enough.
  • ESP-12E (NodeMCU Lua) is a complete development board with USB-connector, one analog and 11 digital IO-Ports. It’s also very cheap on eBay (< 4€).

To get started the ESP-12E module perfect, because of the build in USB-connector. The board also provides the 3.3V that is needed.


On a Mac computer you need a driver to access the USB-Port. This can be found on the support pages of silicon lab.

This driver worked fine for me, but after some weeks / softwareupdate later it didn’t work. But there is an alternative: Look here:

Signed Mac OS Driver for Winchiphead CH340 serial bridge

Programming environment

After installing that driver you need software for programming the ESP-8266 module. There are different approaches: python, javascript, … A really cool software seems to be: NodeMCU. It provides running LUA scripts (javascript like language).

But to start simple, just use the Arduino platform. Download (and contribute) the software. After starting the program some steps have to be done:

  • adding the ESP-8266 board: Click in the Menu: Arduino – Settings. Add the following line to the ‚Additional Boads Manager URLs‘:

If there is already something in that edit field, that just add „,“ and that that line.

  • Select the ESP-8266 board. Click in the Menu: Tools – Boards – Board Manager. There search for esp8266 and click ‚install‘.
  • After that you are able to select the boards. Select ‚Generic ESP8266 Module‘ for the ESP-01 Module or ‚NodeMCU ..‘ for the ESP-12 Module.
  • Create your first program based on File – Examples – ESP8266 – Blink.
  • Connect your ESP8266 board and click Tools – Port. Something like
  • hopefully that program will be loaded into the ESP8266 and than started immediately.