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How do I get apps for my Mac?

MacOS makes it very easy for you with the App Store: a reliable virtual store where you can download software.
You can find the App Store in the Apple Menu and in your Dock. Getting a program from the App Store is very simple and installation is automatic.

Note: You will also have to download the wonderful software that comes with your Mac (Pages - word processor, Keynote - presentation, Numbers - Excel clone, iMovie - making movies, Garageband - making music). Macs might be higher in price, they have an excellent and complete batch of software by default!

Switchers: don't immediately look for an App outside of your Mac!
Your Mac comes very complete with wonderfully beautiful software. So for:
Edit and archive photos => Photos (available by default)
View and edit PDFs and other images => Preview (default)
Write simple letters => Text editor (default)
Create beautiful documents => Pages (available by default, just download for free from the App Store)
Make calculations => Numbers (App Store)
Create presentations => Keynote (App Store)
Make and record / edit music with various instruments and vocals => Garageband (App Store)
Making movies => iMovie (App Store)
And further include:
reading eBooks and listening to audiobooks, making them with iBooks, Navigating, Playing music, Chess, Calculator, Voice recorder, Stocks, Calendar, Address book, Fonts, Making webcam movies (with and without effects), Chess, Dictionary, Browser (Safari), Video calling with FaceTime, Take Screen Pictures, Password Manager, Give Voice Commands, Color Calibration, Math Graphs, Pro Ramming, burning CD's, all included as standard.
So don't look outside when you can do it on your beautiful Mac!

Sources other than the App Store
Not all developers sell through the App Store. Your best bet is to visit the real website of the software manufacturer directly. Unfortunately, collection sites are often hacked and sometimes deliver malware. So don't make use of it.

Be careful about downloading software from dubious sources such as:
advertising on websites, collection sites or via Usenet / Bittorrent.
You never know if this software is kosher! Rule of thumb: Appstore = always good.

More about incorrect software in chapter Security and Malware.

Copy software
Installing software from the App Store is automatic. If you get your apps from elsewhere, you can usually just copy them to your hard drive. You do this by dragging the relevant file and releasing it on the folder Apps (Programs): in other words, "rut ende pleur".

Installing software
However, sometimes you have to install a program. This means that the program has to add things to your Mac in several places. There is often "Installer" or ".pkg" after the name. You start an installer by double clicking on the icon. Then follow the directions on your screen.
NOTE: Have your administrator password at hand!

Packing, unpacking and packing
Some programs are specially packaged (.dmg) and after unpacking (automatically after double-clicking) become a so-called Disk image (Disc iMaGe). This is a virtual hard disk on which the program or Installer resides.
This virtual disk works just like a real one. It appears in your Sidebar under DEVICES and you must eject it after use.

Watch your System version!
If you see nice software, make sure it is suitable for your MacOS version.
Has your Mac been several years old? Sometimes you have to look for an older version of that software - or upgrade your system. Macs last for years and cannot always run the latest. That doesn't have to be a problem, but it is something to be aware of.

Rule of thumb: Software from the App Store is always OK. They know exactly what your Mac is running there.

How do I know what kind of system I am running?
Go to the Apple Menu and select "About This Mac". Here you can see your system version.

More details in chapter About your Mac

Download and install a sample software from the App Store
MacMiep keeps an eye on the money, so we download a free program.
Here we download Mactracker, an app in which all Macs ever made can be found.
Have your Apple ID at hand!

1. Enter the name of the program in the search box:

2. Click on 'download'.

3. Log in with your Apple ID if necessary. Yes, that is also possible with free texts.
The circle shows how far it already is:

Once the download is complete, you can choose 'Open' to start the app:

And there it is already, in the Apps folder:

Now you can play:

Note: If desired, you can also drag the application into the Dock or the Sidebar. Choose what you prefer to work with. There are more ways to Rome on a Mac.

An example of downloading software without the App Store: Google Chrome
1. Download the program from the Google website.

Do you have a brand new Mac with the new Apple M1 chip? Then choose that version to take full advantage of that chip:

The Mac will first ask you if you are sure you want this download. This is for safety, so that you don't accidentally bring in anything.

NOTE: You can see how the download is progressing at the top right of your Window:

The file will now end up in your Downloads folder as xxxxxxx.dmg:

2. Double-click the .dmg to open it (the .dmg is checked first).
A virtual disk will appear on your Desktop:

3. The app is on this disc. Double-click the disk to open a Window.

Drag it to the Apps folder to copy it.

4. Chrome appears in the Applications folder:


You no longer need the virtual disk. Eject it. You can do this via the Trash:

Or via the Sidebar:

Start the program
Double click on the program to start it up.

Put the program in the dock
Don't forget to drag the program into your Dock as well! If you plan to use it more often:

Like this: Now you can always immediately access Google Chrome:

Open after login
Are you going to always from Goog le Chrome to use? Then right-click on the Dock icon and choose 'Open after login'.

Downloaded program warning
If you have downloaded your program from the internet and not via the App Store, you will receive another warning when you start it for the first time:

This is to make sure you haven't accidentally downloaded something you didn't want at all. Also check the address of the mentioned website to be sure.
Unfortunately, we Maccers have also become the target of naughty programmers. It is therefore necessary to be careful to prevent malware!
More about security risks of broken and / or outdated software in chapter Security => Malware.

Working with installers is also more or less automatic. You may need to enter a serial number or register. This is the case with Adobe CS Cloud, for example.

Some software needs to add things deep in the system and require a Reboot afterwards.
Do this immediately!

To update
Software makers are constantly trying to improve their product. In the App Store you will find this under 'Updates':

Note: Programs not available in the App Store have their own methods. Usually it is automatic and you will automatically receive a notification that there is an update.

Update or Upgrade?
There is a difference between an UpDate and and UpGrade.
The first is a small piece of software that fixes errors in the program, fixes security holes and adds small new things.
An Upgrade is a total renewal of the program. The manufacturer has made a great effort to improve the program, add extra things and make it work with the latest standards.

How can I tell the difference between an Update and an Upgrade?
You can tell by the difference in version number.
MacOS 11 Big Sur is the latest upgrade from MacOS.
MacOS 11.1 is an update of the same MacOS version.

Note: Upgrades are usually much larger in file size than updates. You may also have to pay for an Upgrade. Updates are free.

Point EXE
In Windows, a program has the extension .EXE ("executable") after its name. You will not find this extension on the Mac. Such a program will not run on the Mac unless you install Windows. See chapter Switching for this.

My file cannot be opened
You have a file, but no program on your Mac can open it.

There is a solution:
Right-click on the file
Choose Open with => App Store ...
Now your Mac will search the App Store for a program that can open this file:

Moving something from one program to another
With "Cut and Paste" from the Edit menu,
aka Command-C, Command-V, you copy things from one place to another within a document or within a program.
But did you know you can also use this between different programs? It depends a bit on the kind of program whether it works, but you can always try it.

Drag and drop
What also often works is simply "Drag and Drop". So just select something and drag it to where you want it. Try!

Jump from program to program and back
Switch quickly between programs: Command-Tab
Trackpad users can "swing" with three fingers.

Spotlight: quick search
MacOS 'search engine is called Spotlight and finds files by name and content in real-time (while you tap). This works super fast!
Spotlight can be accessed directly via the magnifying glass icon in the top right corner of your screen.

Click on it and appear in the middle of your screen

Make use of it !!

Search in a Finder window
You can also search in any Finder window with Spotlight technology:

Spotlight shortcut

Note: Users of some Adobe programs will sometimes get confused with Adobe's zoom shortcuts. MacMiep therefore always presses the space key first.

Search more specifically with Spotlight
By including “AND” (and), “OR” (or) and “NOT” (not) in a search, you can search very specifically. You can search for exact phrases (using quotation marks) and for items before or after a certain date using the symbols> (greater than)
and <(less than).

Search directly with Google / DuckDuckGo / Bing *
You can also search directly with Google. You first select the word you want to know more about and do a right-click. A shortcut menu will appear offering, among other things, 'Search with Google' (here in the Text Editor app):

Safari will now open automatically and automatically enter the search word in Google and it will show you the search results.
* NOTE: if you have chosen a different search engine in Safari, it will search with that one

Storage: how and what.
When you have made something in a program, you usually want to keep it.
The 'Save' command can be found under the File menu. You will find it in the same place in every program.

Example of saving a file
We save a text file here, created in the TextEdit program. This simple word processor comes standard with MacOS. It can open and save Word (.doc) files.

Finder structure can also be used while saving
Show the Finder structure by clicking the little V.

This will take you to the same structure as the Finder windows, including the Sidebar. You can also choose List or Column view.

Save another version
Choose Duplicate from the File menu.
Then choose Save to name the new document.

Save as ...
Hold down the Option (Alt) key and move your mouse to the File menu. An additional menu item will now appear: 'Save as ...'

Automatic save function
When you use the automatic backup program Time Machine (which every Maccer should!), MacOS will automatically save some versions of the document you are working on.
Some programs also have their own auto-save function.

More about Time Machine in the Backup chapter.

The next chapter is:
tips for apps

making music with Garageband

Disclaimer: MacMiep is independent. This means she writes what she wants, based on 30 years of Mac-experience. She doesn't get paid for stories (positive or negative) on this website. MacMiep is not interested in your data. However, she does use Google's services. Google is indeed interested. Are you happy with MacMiep? Please support your local cat shelter.