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Converting bin/cue to iso in OS X

Today I found myself with another pair of those darn .bin/.cue files that Apple’s Disk Utility won’t open, burn or convert. In the past I’ve always had to go through a number of steps to convert and burn using Toast, which is fine, but kind of a pain that I choose not to engage in any longer. After reading through articles, forum and comment threads I realized I could’ve ditched the Toast method years ago, using bchunk and Terminal, egads!

I don’t consider myself to be particularly “tech-ie”, I use the terminal for very basic tasks when my Mac refuses to cooperate any other way (eg. CD/DVD’s that won’t eject, Trash that never wants to leave, etc.) I deal with .bin/.cue files rarely, so I thought it would be a good idea to write down the following steps in plain English for the non-techies out there. Also by the time I’m confronted with a pair of .bin/.cue files again, I’ll have probably forgotten the commands.

If you’re new to the Mac or never used the terminal and you’re scratching your head because you’ve a .bin/.cue file you want to open, this should help:

First off, in order for this to work, you need to have your Xcode Developer Tools installed. You can find them on your Leopard (or Tiger) Installation disc or you can download it free, directly from Apple’s Developer site: http://developer.apple.com/mac/ but you will need your Apple ID. If you’re running Leopard and not Snow Leopard, be sure you download the correct version as the most recent Xcode is only compatible with Snow Leopard. (I followed the steps below running 10.5.8 on an Intel, but this should work on 10.4 and on the PPC as well.)

1. Xcode Developer Tools should be installed.

2. Download bchunk from (just right click and download/save file): http://jamesnsears.com/code/bchunk.zip

3.  If your Mac hasn’t unzipped the file automatically, extract the .zip file by double clicking it and copy it to your home folder:
/Users/[your username]

4. Go to your Applications/Utilities folder, open Terminal and type (you can copy and paste):

sudo cp bchunk /usr/bin/
sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/bchunk

After I did this, Terminal asked me for my administrator password, go ahead and type it in and hit Return/Enter.

5. Copy your .bin and .cue files to your home folder (where bchunk now also resides), and in Terminal type:

bchunk input.bin input.cue output.iso

In place of input.bin and input.cue type the names of the .bin and .cue files you want to convert)

6. You’ll see your .bin file convert to an .iso file in the Terminal window and you’re done. You can mount the .iso onto your Desktop now, or burn it in Disk Utility/iTunes or Toast depending upon what kind of files are enclosed.

Thanks to Gavin McLelland’s post: http://gavin.mclelland.ca/2007/10/04/convert_bincue_to_iso_on_mac_osx/ and James N, Sears for compiling bchunk so I didn’t have to: http://www.jamesnsears.com/

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28 responses

  1. THANKS!!

    September 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm

  2. Thanks for spelling this out clearly – this was the only page I could find online that solved the .bin / os x problem for me!

    October 24, 2011 at 8:44 am

  3. You are very welcome!!!

    October 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  4. Fantastic. By far the best solution I have seen. Thanks so much for writing this. I was ripping my hair out…

    February 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm

  5. I’m glad to have saved at least some of your hair!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:39 am

  6. Thanks, but I dont get it to work properly. BCHUNK is generating a bunch of .cdr files instead of an .iso file. Any ideas why?

    May 11, 2012 at 4:22 am

  7. I think that .iso and .cdr may actually be the same, but .cdr may be a Mac only file extension. Try selecting the .cdr file and changing “.cdr” to “.iso” and see if that helps things. Don’t worry you can always change it back to .cdr, I’ve changed file extension names without issue many times.

    May 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm

  8. furby76

    In Terminal it gives option for command of v – verbose mode, w – output audio files in wav format (which I type ‘w’ as my command). then nothing happens to the bin or cue file at all? Would love to know what I’m doing wrong. Thank you.

    August 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

  9. I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. Unfortunately I don’t have any .iso files on my computer currently, to recreate your issue and figure out a fix. I assume your .iso file is an audio CD?

    September 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

  10. blero

    A lot of thanks.

    December 19, 2012 at 5:24 am

  11. You’re welcome!

    December 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

  12. Gerie

    It worked like a charm. Thank you!

    January 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm

  13. You’re very welcome!

    January 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm

  14. Kennedy

    its work fine on lion, thanks a lot

    February 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm

  15. Good to know it works on Lion. I finally upgraded to Snow Leopard (holding off on Lion till I’m sure about Corel Painter 12 compatibility) and haven’t had any bin cue files to test out the steps.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm

  16. Kennedy

    Strange… its work two times, now when i paste ” sudo cp bchunk /usr/bin/
    sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/bchunk ” Terminal don’t ask me my pasword

    February 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm

  17. Mike

    “sudo cp bchunk /usr/bin/
    sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/bchunk”

    Saying the location does not exist. Any suggestions?

    June 23, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  18. Mike, the last I had a bin/cue file was three startup drives ago before my first internal died. When I installed my latest hard drive I apparently didn’t bother to update my xCode for Snow Leopard, so I can’t test the command out. Though I will be installing xCode (I guess 4.2?) in the next couple of days, if that’s possible, I’m guessing you may have figured it out before I have. If you do, let me/us know. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can source a bin/cue file.

    June 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  19. Mike

    Thanks for the quick reply, luckily my brother (programming background) was able to help me out. Had to create the /usr/bin folder from scratch. Terminal successfully wrote the .bin/.cue respectively into .iso format, time to mount.

    June 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm

  20. Mike

    Sometimes though I am getting iso.ugh files, which cannot be mounted.

    Ideas?

    June 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

  21. Marcus

    I’m entirely unfamiliar with Terminal. Could you answer some questions for me? They’re probably fairly obvious…

    1) By “Home” do you mean Desktop, My Name? I use a Lion

    2) For step #5, do you mean use Terminal’s “New Command” function?

    3) What if I have a .bin file but not a .cue file (to my knowledge)?

    Thanks.

    July 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm

  22. Home is the folder with your user name, eg Macintosh HD/Users/Marcus (if Marcus is your user name on your Mac.)

    For step 5, just type the command into the Terminal window.

    If you don’t have a .cue file, I don’t know. You could try eliminating the .cue in that last command, I don’t know if that will give you the end result of an iso file though.

    I’ve only encountered .bin files without an accompanying .cue file back in the days of OS 7 and 8. They were “bin hex” files, a compression method like .sit or .zip. I think I was able to open them using Stuffit Expander, but that was many, many years ago, I may have used some other utility. You could try decompressing a copy of the file and see if that’s the case.

    July 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm

  23. Marcus

    Thank you so much. Problem isn’t solved but the info is helpful. If you don’t mind indulging me a little more:

    1) With #5 (after deleting input.cue and typing it with the .bin file name) I get this “:-bash: syntax error near unexpected token `(‘ ” There was a comma in the file name when I downloaded it but after I deleted the comma it still said the same thing. Any ideas?

    2) Can you recommend a Terminal tutorial? I encounter the program every couple weeks but I know nothing about it.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm

  24. Marcus

    Also, if I run the .bin file through Archiver it spits out the same file only with .cpgz on the end.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm

  25. Yes that .cpgz file ending, and if you double click it you get nowhere, I think it’s a vicious circle trying to deal with those. I’m assuming you didn’t try to just change the .bin file ending to .iso or .cdr? Sometimes that works for me, and sometimes not.

    I found a YouTube video that explains how to create a .cue file (you’ll do it in TextEdit) I had difficulty seeing what she was typing, because I can’t find my glasses, but check it out:

    This might be the solution.

    I think Windows users are able to burn .bin files directly to a CD or DVD as a way of gaining access to the content, I’m not sure if Mac users have this option, via Disk Utility or Roxio Toast. If you have a few discs to spare, you might try burning a few versions, each with a different file ending, .bin, .iso, .cdr.

    As far as using Terminal itself, I don’t know what tutorials are out there. It’s not so much using the app that is difficult, it’s just typing code into the one window. I’ve looked several times for a good book of command line codes to use in Terminal for non-coders, like a QuickStart Guide to Terminal or Terminal for Dummies. Everything I found was way more in-depth and over my head than I was prepared to read.

    July 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm

  26. johngalabraith

    Excellent post! Here is what I am up to.. bchunk Crash_Bandicoot.bin Crash_Bandicoot.cue Crash_Bandicoot.iso .. ROFL!! I am a techie kind of guy and I learn something new or find a better way to do something every day. Thank you! Now, game time.

    January 22, 2014 at 8:23 am

  27. johngalabraith

    BTW, Your blog looks awesome! Keep it up!

    January 22, 2014 at 8:23 am

  28. Thanks!

    January 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

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