When opening an older Isadora file or one created by someone else, you may be presented with the "Missing Actors/Plugins" dialog box. This informs you that some plugins used in the file are missing and that the file will not operate properly unless the plugins are installed.

This article goes into further detail about why this happens and what to do about it. If you're on macOS and your plugin starts with QC, CI or AU, then you should jump to the specific sections about Quartz Composer, Core Image, and Audio Unit plugins. Otherwise, keep reading for information on finding the plugin you need.

What to Do If You Installed the Plugin but Isadora Still Says It's Missing 

If you've installed a plugin in the correct location, and it still shows up as missing, it is probably because 1) the plugin is 32-bit or, 2) you're on macOS Catalina or later and security features in the operating system have prevented the plugin from being loaded. The Catalina security issues are covered in a specific section below, but here's how to determine if a plugin is 32 or 64 bit

macOS: To determine if a plugin is 32 bit only, select it in the Finder and choose File > Get Info. If you see Kind: XXX (32-bit), then it is a 32-bit only plugin in and will not run in Isadora 3.

Windows: The executable part of the plugin will end  in .dll (for dynamic link library.) There is no super easy way to determine if a plugin is 32 or 64 bit; but this article tells you how to use a text editor to find out.

Official TroikaTronix Plugins with Open Source Code

Most Isadora plugins are bundled with the Isadora application. But some very useful plugins contain open source code with licenses that prevent us from bundling them with the Isadora application. These plugins can downloaded on from our Plugins page. Just open the page and search for the name of the plugin that is missing. Once you find it, download the plugin and follow the installation instructions included with the download.

Third-Party Plugins - General

Your file may include third party plugins from sources other than TroikaTronix. To run these files, you'll need to locate the third-party plugins so that you can download and install them. If you don't know where the plugins came from, you'll need to ask the author of the Isadora file (if you didn't create the file yourself) or do an online search using the plugin name as displayed in the dialog box.

With that in mind, let's look at some specific third party plugins that might be missing and how to find them.

Third-Party FreeFrame Plugins

Newer, OpenGL based FreeFrameGL plugins are more likely have a 64-bit version that will run in Isadora 3. If you don't know where the plugin came from, search the internet for the plugin name and include the word "freeframe" as part of the search, e.g. MyPluginName FreeFrame. Otherwise, you can always ask the Isadora community if they know where to find the plugin by posting a question on the TroikaTronix forum.

We have not found any examples of older, CPU based FreeFrame plugins that are compiled for 64-bit. This means they won't run on Isadora 3 because they no 64-bit application can run 32-bit code. We ourselves offered "Pete's Plugins" – a collection of 32-bit CPU based FreeFrame plugins created by Pete Warden. You can find a list of all Pete's Plugins at the end of this article so you'll know right away if that is one of the plugins that is missing.

macOS Only: Third-Party Quartz Composer ('QC') Plugins

All Quartz Composer plugins start with the prefix 'QC. When searching the internet to find a missing Audio Unit, a good search term would be the name of the plugin (without the QC) and the words Quartz Composer, e.g., MyPluginName Quartz Composer.

The plugins need to be installed one of the standard locations for Quartz Composer plugins, which include the following directories:



~/Library/Compositions (i.e., /Users/YOUR_USER_NAME/Library/Compositions)

Most Quartz Composer plugins do not contain compiled code, but a few do. (One popular example: the Datamosh plugin.) If the compiled code is 32-bit, the plugin will not run under Isadora 3 because it is impossible for a 64-bit application to load 32-bit code.

If you install the plugin in the correct location and it still doesn't show up, go back to the section above entitled "What to Do If You Installed the Plugin but Isadora Still Says It's Missing"

macOS Only: Core Image ('CI') Plugins

These plugins are easy to recognize because their names always start with CI in Isadora. Because these plugins are supplied by Apple, there's no need to search for them. Instead, if you are seeing this warning, it is because starting in macOS High Sierra, Apple changed the name of a few Core Image plugins, which causes Isadora to not recognize them. To find the replacements, you'll need to click on the "CI" icon in the toolbox and search through the list of Core Image plugins that are currently available on your system.

macOS Only: Third-Party Audio Unit ('AU') Audio Plugins

All Audio Unit plugins start with the prefix 'AU'. When searching the internet to find a missing Audio Unit, a good search term would be the name of the plugin (without the AU) and the words Audio Unit, e.g., AwesomeAudioPlugin Audio Unit.

Audio Unit plugins must be 64-bit to run in Isadora 3 or later. They must be installed in one of the following standard locations:


~/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components (i.e.,  /Users/YOUR_USER_NAME//Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Components)

If you install the plugin in the correct location and it still doesn't show up, go back to the section above entitled "What to Do If You Installed the Plugin but Isadora Still Says It's Missing"

macOS Only: Catalina and Later - Security Features Prevent Plugins from Running

macOS Catalina (10.15) introduced new security restrictions that can prevent plugins that are not recognized from being loaded, and will prevent plugins that are are not code signed** from ever being loaded. (This doesn't just affect Isadora, but every program running under Catalina that uses plugins.) Attempting to load such a plugin will generate a dialog that looks something like this:


If you face this, you can try to get around it by immediately opening the Apple System Preferences and choosing Security and Privacy. If a message similar to the one shown below, you can click the "Open Anyway" button to give your blessing to the plugin. That  see an opportunity to manually give your blessing to the plugin that didn't load. For a single plugin, that's not such a big issue. But if you have a lot of plugins like this, it is a time consuming task.

There's not much we at TroikaTronix can do about this. Catalina and subsequent versions of macOS are simply becoming much more strict when it comes to what code can and cannot be run.

**About Code Signing: When an application or plugin is "code signed", it is marked with a special code that allows the operating system to know whether or not the code has been modified since the developer released it. If this special code doesn't match, the the operating system won't allow the application or plugin to run, because it may have modified to add malicious code like viruses or malware.

Pete's Plugins - Pete Warden's FreeFrame Plugins (32 bit only)

Below is a list of "Pete's Plugins", the open-source. 32-bit only plugins created by Pete Warden that we offered on our site in the past. if the name of your missing plugin is in this list, there is unfortunately no direct replacement for Isadora 3 or later.












































our Plugins page