Running Local LLMs on macOS and iOS

620 words; 4 minute(s)

Table of Contents

Requirements

I've recently started playing with large language models (LLMs), mostly in the popular chatbot form, as part of my job and have decided to see if there's a consistent and reliable way to interact with these models on Apple devices without sacrificing privacy or requiring in-depth technical setup.

My requirements for this test:

I tested a handful of apps and have summarized my favorite (so far) for macOS and iOS below.

TL;DR - Here are the two that met my requirements and I have found the easiest to install and use so far:

macOS

Ollama is a simple Go application for macOS and Linux that can run various LLMs locally.

For macOS, you can download the pplication on the Ollama download page and install it by unzipping the Ollama.app file and moving it to the Applications folder.

If you prefer the command line, you can run these commands after the download finished:

cd ~/Downloads && \
unzip Ollama-darwin.zip && \
mv ~/Downloads/Ollama.app /Applications/

After running the app, the app will ask you to open a terminal and run the default llama2 model, which will open an interactive chat session in the terminal. You can startfully using the application at this point.

Ollama

If you don't want to use the default llama2 model, you can download and run additional models found on the Models page.

To see the information for the currently-used model, you can run the /show info command in the chat.

Model Info

Community Integrations

I highly recommend browsing the Community Integrations section of the project to see how you would prefer to extend Ollama beyond a simple command-line interface. There are options for APIs, browser UIs, advanced terminal configurations, and more.

Ollama SwiftUI

iOS

While there are a handful of decent macOS options, it was quite difficult to find an iOS app that offered an open source platform without an extensive configuration and building process. I found LLM Farm to be decent enough in quality to sit at the top of my list - however, it's definitely not user friendly enough for me to consider using it on a daily basis.

LLM Farm is available on TestFlight, so there's no manual build process required. However, you can view the LLMFarm repository if you wish.

The caveat is that you will have to manually download the model files from the links in the models.md file to your iPhone to use the app - there's currently no option in the app to reach out and grab the latest version of any supported model.

Once you have a file downloaded, you simply create a new chat and select the downloaded model file and ensure the inference matches the requirement in the models.md file.

See below for a test of the ORCA Mini v3 model:

Chat ListChat
LLM Farm ChatsLLM Farm

Enchanted is also an iOS for private AI models, but it requires a public-facing Ollama API, which did not meet my "on device requirement." Nonetheless, it's an interesting looking app and I will likely set it up to test soon.