Setting up a development environment for xamarin is fairly easy . Most of the work is done through a pair of installers.
One for Mac OS and one for Windows.
Go to xamarin.com and click on the products drop-down and select the xamarin platform option this will lead you to a page to download the installer for your specific environment.
So let's start with the Mac when using a Mac the first thing you should do is install apples developer tools .Apple shifts these with its IDE named Xcode which is available in the App Store. They only publish the latest version of it here and it will almost always require the latest mac OS release for compatibility. This is a free download just open the app store search for xcode and install it.
Once you've got that installed download the xamarin installer from xamarin and go through the install process. This will install the xamarin development environment xamarin studio as well as the android sdk tools automatically. There are several components which must be downloaded and installed from various locations so this will take anywhere from minutes to an hour depending on your internet speed. Luckily there's not much user interaction required once it's finished you'll be able to start building Android and iOS applications using xamarin.
Next we have windows on Windows the same route willing we'll work with visual studio and later we recommend the latest released version with all the updates applied which as of this moment is visual studio with update the tools can be installed into any skew except the Express editions. If you want to try visual studio for free then just use the free Community Edition .
If you're using visual studio the new version can add support for xamarin directly from the visual studio installer it will install all the required SDKs and build tools automatically.
Alternatively you can download the xamarin installer for windows from xamarin and run a separate setup program. This will install the required SDK pieces and add support to visual studio for xamarin apps and is a great option if you already have visual studio installed and don't want to go back. Through that installer this will also install a version of xamarin studio for windows this is similar to the mac version but only allows for android development.
Once you've gone through either approach you can check the about dialog and visual studio to verify that xamarin tooling is enabled.
Next you want to check for updates the installers are not rebuilt with every update so it's very likely that you'll have some older components which need to be refreshed. On visual studio use tools options xamarin and then click on the check now link under updates .
On the Mac you can use the system menu check for updates to get the same dialog. Both ids will automatically check for updates periodically as well just to make sure that you keep your tools and libraries up-to-date.
No matter how you do the update you'll see a dialog similar to this one. This has two things of interest first it shows you any updates available for your system and second it allows you to change the update Channel xamarin sends out updates and stages exposed through release channels that run from alpha to beta stable you can change the release channel any time to try out new features or move back to a more stable environment. We recommend the stable channel. But you can switch between the channels at any time based on your testing needs.