How to install an app on a Mac 

Macs contain many system applications to help you deal with basic tasks, but you will probably want to install more third-party apps on your Mac. It seems to be a simple operation, but if you haven’t worked with macOS before, you might be confused.

In this article, we are going to share two ways to install new applications on your Mac.


  1. How to install apps on your Mac using the Mac App Store
  2. How to install apps on your Mac downloaded from the Internet
  3. Is it safe to download programs from the Internet?
  4. Why is an app not supported on a Mac?
  5. How to uninstall apps from your Mac

How to install apps on your Mac using the Mac App Store

The App Store is the official Apple distribution platform where you can find and download applications for your Mac and iOS/iPadOS devices. In other words, it is an online shop where the developers can distribute their software and the customers can download this software.

Most users prefer to download applications from the App Store because Apple cares about the safety of its users. All applications distributed in the Mac App Store have to follow guidelines and requirements from Apple in order to guarantee the user’s privacy and security.

All of the applications uploaded to the App Store are carefully checked before being verified. Due to this, if you download applications from the App Store, you can be sure that they will work correctly with your system. None of the applications can get access to your calendar, disk, files, or any other data without your permission.

How to download applications from the App Store

In order to download an application from the App Store, you need to log in with your Apple ID. If you do not have an Apple ID yet, you will be prompted to create one when you first launch the App Store.

To find any software program in the App Store, use the applications categories or the search field. Just type what you are looking for and press Enter.

If the application is absolutely free or it is partly free but provides a paid version with in-app purchases, you will see the “Get” button next to its name and icon. You just need to click on Get to start downloading the app on your Mac.

If the application you are interested in is not free, you will see the price button. You will need to purchase the application in order to use it.

Once you either purchase the application or select Get, Mac will automatically install it on your system. Then, you can find it in the Launchpad or in the Applications folder.

If you download applications not from the App Store but right from the developers’ websites, you will have to manually drag and drop an app into the Applications folder.

How to install apps on your Mac downloaded from the Internet

Due to a large number of Apple restrictions for developers, many software development companies can’t release their applications in the App Store. They prefer to distribute their products directly through their websites.

In some cases, companies can distribute their applications both in the App Store and on their websites. However, the App Store version of the apps might have limited features because of restrictions that don’t allow the developers to implement all their ideas. So, you should check this information when deciding where to download an app.

Usually, applications downloaded directly from the developers’ sites provide some additional features, and they are updated more often as they don’t need to pass additional reviews from the App Store.

Another reason why the developers distribute their software on their websites is the financial aspect. Apple takes 30% off every sale in the App Store. Knowing this, many loyal users might prefer to download applications from the developer’s site in order to support their favorite software development companies.

Important note! When downloading an application from an Internet resource, please be careful and download only from trusted resources. Don’t use torrents or other suspicious services. It’s better to go to the developer’s official site to download and install an application on your Mac.

When you have found the application you need, just click on the “Download” button.

By default, all the files downloaded from the Internet will appear in the Downloads folder on your Mac. Navigate to the Downloads folder and find the installation file that you just downloaded.

There are different types of installation files for Mac applications:

  • Disk Image File (.dmg) – the most common file format.
  • Compressed files (.zip and others) – to work with them, you need to double-click on the file to unpack it.
  • PKG files (short for Package) – they usually contain installer scripts similar to the installation process on Microsoft Windows.

In most cases, your downloaded installation file will have the .dmg format. The process of the installation itself is fast and simple. Just double-click on it to open. In the window that opens, you will see the icon of the app and the Applications folder. You have to drag and drop the app’s icon into the “Applications” folder. Then, you will find the app in the Launchpad as well.

You can also create a separate folder for storing games or additional programs. However, it’s better to store all apps in the “Applications” folder.

Is it safe to download programs from the Internet?

Starting with macOS 10.14.5, all applications require a digital signature from Apple. The developer “signs” the application using certificates from the Apple developer’s personal account. This process is called notarization.

Notarization ensures that the application is from a safe developer and that the application is reliable and doesn’t contain any malware. In addition, if the application suddenly does not work correctly with user data, then Apple will revoke the certificate, and such an application will no longer be able to run on a Mac.

All reliable developers notarize their applications. If the app is Apple-notarized, you can be sure that it is safe to download from the Internet and install it on your Mac.

Why is an app not supported on a Mac?

It may happen that you cannot install the application on your Mac. One of the most common reasons is that the version of macOS that you are using doesn’t support it. Perhaps the application is outdated and doesn’t work with the current version of macOS.

Also, programs might stop working because you haven’t updated it and the old version has some bugs. If you face this problem, try to update the apps that are not working. Always use the latest versions of the applications to avoid possible errors and problems. Developers regularly fix some bugs, and updates allow the program to work correctly and be optimized with the latest macOS.

If the app was downloaded from the App Store, you can turn on automatic updates for all apps. To do this, follow the guide below.

How to enable automatic updates for apps on your Mac:

  1. Go to the Apple menu (click on the Apple icon at the left-top of your desktop).
  2. Select “System preferences.”
  3. Go to the “System updates” tab.
  4. Click the Advanced button, and in the opened window, select the checkbox next to the “Install app updates from the App Store” option.
  5. Click the OK button to confirm the changes.

If you want to update a particular application downloaded from the App Store, you can open the App Store and go to the Updates tab. Then, find the application that needs to be updated and click the Update button next to its icon.

Programs that were downloaded from third-party resources automatically offer to update the application to a new version. Usually, you can see this message when you run the program.

How to uninstall apps on your Mac

On the Apple official website, it is recommended that you delete applications by dragging and dropping their icons from the Applications folder into the Trash. However, when you simply drag apps into the Trash, they leave a lot of system files on your disk, which can take up significant disk space on your Mac.

To completely uninstall applications from your Mac, read the article: “Three ways on how to uninstall apps on Mac.” You will learn how to remove apps with all of their leftovers. This step-by-step guide will help you uninstall any application on your Mac entirely and safely.


We provided two ways on how to install apps on your Mac. You can download apps from the App Store or right from the developer’s site. It’s up to you where you decide to download applications for your Mac, but you should note that the applications in the App Store often have limited functionality due to the harsh restrictions from Apple.

However, when downloading apps from the Internet, make sure that the apps are safe and notarized by Apple.