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Installing the Arduino Software and Getting to Know the IDE

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

Welcome to the first post in the Intro to Arduino series. In this post, I'm going to go over how to install the Arduino software and use the integrated development environment (IDE). For this series, I'm going to be using parts from the Arduino Starter Kit.


Windows Installation

First, go to Arduino software download page here. For windows users, click on the installer option. Mac users will only have one option.

The Arduino IDE is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users.
Arduino Software Download Page

Download and run the executable file. Agree to the license agreement. On the next screen, make sure the "Install USB driver" box is checked and finish going through the installation.

The Windows installation wizard now installs the USB driver.
Arduino Software Installation Wizard


Mac Installation

For the Mac installation, clicking on the link from the download page will download a zip file. Inside the zip file is the application file. You can run Arduino by clicking on this link directly from your downloads folder, or you can move it to your applications folder.

Installing the Arduino IDE is just a simple download on a Mac.
Arduino Software Download for Mac


Using the IDE

Open up the Arduino software. This will be the environment where all of the code will be written. If the interface is too small to read, you can change the scale by going to File>Preferences. You'll have to close and reopen the software for to it to take effect.

Arduino software preferences can be found in the File drop down menu.
Arduino Software Preferences
The Arduino software interface scale can be changed in the settings menu.
Arduino Preferences Menu

The icon with the check mark is the "Verify" icon. This icon will check the syntax of the code for any errors. The icon next to it is the "Upload" icon. This checks the syntax and then uploads the code to the board. The three icons to the left are "New," "Open," and "Save." The last icon on the far right will open up the serial monitor, which will be discussed in later posts

Simple Arduino IDE Icons
Arduino IDE Icons


Communicating with the Arduino Uno

Next we're going to verify that your computer can communicate with your Arduino. Connect the USB cable to the Arduino and the computer. You should see an LED light up.

Arduino Uno communicates via a USB cable.
Arduino USB Cable

In the Arduino IDE, we're going to open up an example to upload to the board. Go to File>Examples>Basics>Blink.

Arduino IDE has many built in examples, including making an LED Blink.
Arduino Blink Example

Then make sure you have the correct board selected by going to Tools>Board>Arduino Uno.

Arduino IDE works for many different Arduino boards.
Arduino IDE Board Selection

A COM port needs to be selected in order to send and receive data. Select the port by going to Tools>Port. For the Arduino Uno, the COM port is usually labeled. For Windows, the ports are numbered. For a Mac, the port will have "usbmodem" in the name.

Selection of the USB COM port on the Arduino IDE for a Windows machine
Arduino COM Port Selection on Windows
Selection of the USB COM port on the Arduino IDE for a Mac machine
Arduino COM Port Selection on Mac

If you choose the wrong port, the IDE just won't do anything. To get out of this, choose the correct port and upload again. You'll initially get an error. Then just click upload one more time.

Selecting the wrong COM port on the Arduino IDE will give an error.
Arduino IDE Error Message

On Windows, you can check which port is associated with your Arduino by going to the device manager. Scroll down to ports, unplug your Arduino, and then reconnect it. You should be able to see a new COM port pop up. This is the one that is connected to your Arduino.

The correct COM port for the Arduino IDE communication can be found in the device manager in Windows.
Windows Device Manager

The particular example that was uploaded turns Pin 13 on and off, over and over again. The "L" LED is connected to this pin and will blink if everything was done properly.

The Blink example makes the "L" LED turn on and off
Arduino Uno Pin 13 LED

Now that you're able to upload to your board, you're all set to start building circuits and writing code.

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