How to get great Mac software

How to get great Mac software

Learn how to use and understand the App Store


  • Intro 1
  • 01 Accessing the store 2
  • 02 Get system updates 3
  • 03 Automatic updates 4
  • 04 Manual updates 5
  • 05 Conserve disk space 6
  • 06 Sign in 7
  • 07 Browse the store 8
  • 08 Search for apps 9
  • 09 Install an app 10
  • 10 Find out more 11
  • 11 Talk about it 12
  • 12 Uninstall Store-bought apps 13
  • 13 Uninstall other apps 14
  • 14 Hide purchases 15
  • 15 Restore purchases 16
  • Extra Tip: Set up an account and payment 17
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Step 1 of 17: Intro

The Mac App Store is an easy way to get apps onto your Mac. No DVD drive is needed to install them, and it obviates the need to keep track of serial numbers. Apps purchased from the store can be used on multiple personal Macs.

Each Mac can automatically download new purchases, so an app will be ready for you no matter which one you’re using. Updates to apps are also managed through the store, and it’s also the route through which updates to the Mac’s operating system are delivered.

Software updates are pre-configured to automatically download and install. But that isn’t always a good idea. you might want to postpone updates to conserve bandwidth on a mobile data connection used with a MacBook, or postpone updates so they don’t interrupt important work or study. Here’s how to make the store to work best for you.

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Step 2 of 17: 01 Accessing the store

Although the App Store can be opened through the Apple menu at the top-left of the screen, the Applications folder, and Launchpad, it’s a good idea to leave it in the Dock. It’s icon there displays a number badge when app and OS X updates are available. Note that all OS X updates are counted as one update.

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Step 3 of 17: 02 Get system updates

In Mountain Lion, system updates are delivered through the App Store (in previous versions, they were downloaded by a separate app), but settings that determine when they’re downloaded and installed are in a different place. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu, then click Software Update in the System group to find these settings.

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Step 4 of 17: 03 Automatic updates

Automatically checking for updates lets the App Store is helpful, but you might want to customise the two options indented below that one. App updates are designed to deliver only the files that have changed, in order to save bandwidth. You might choose to delay installing updates in case they introduce problems in apps that are critical to your work.

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Step 5 of 17: 04 Manual updates

System and security updates are meant to protect you. Time Machine lets you roll back if they cause problems. System updates can be large, and if you sometimes use a 3G connection, there’s no way to specify not to use it to download updates, so you might want to turn off automatic downloads to avoid exceeding your data allowance.

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Step 6 of 17: 05 Conserve disk space

The fourth option listed is relevant if you use the same App Store account on multiple Macs. If you, or perhaps another member of your family, downloads large apps or games that take up many gigabytes, unticking this option can prevent a Mac with limited storage, such as a MacBook Air, becoming unnecessarily filled up.

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Step 7 of 17: 06 Sign in

Open the App Store and click Features at the top of its window. In the Quick Links box to the right, click Sign In. If you already shop at the iTunes Store, you can use the same account. (See the boxout if you don’t have an account.) Enter the credentials for your account, then click the ‘Sign in’ button.

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Step 8 of 17: 07 Browse the store

At the top of the window, click Featured to see new and recommended apps. Top Charts shows what people are buying. Categories is presented similarly to Featured, but for specific types of apps. In some categories, the Quick Links box has links to special collections, such as retro games, and a pop-up list to jump between categories.

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Step 9 of 17: 08 Search for apps

Click in the search bar (or press Cmd-F) and being typing the name of an app in which you’re interested. Don’t worry about letter case. Suggested matches are shown as you type. If what you want is listed, click it, or keep typing and hit Return. Try ‘twitter’ and the social network’s official app should be listed first.

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Step 10 of 17: 09 Install an app

Next to the Twitter app’s icon, click ‘Free’ in the grey badge. When it changes to say ‘Install app’, click again. Free apps download right away. For those that cost money, enter your store account’s password to verify the purchase. Check the download’s progress by rolling over the Launchpad icon, or look below the app’s icon in Launchpad.

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Step 11 of 17: 10 Find out more

Click an app’s icon or title to read more about it. Every app’s page has a similar layout, with a general description of its purpose, what’s new in the latest version, illustrations of how it looks, and fine details including system requirements. Scroll down to see how people rate the app and read their reviews, and to write your own.

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Step 12 of 17: 11 Talk about it

Click the downward-pointing arrow next to an app’s price tag to tell people about it by email, iMessage, Twitter and Facebook, or to copy a link to the app to share by other means. In the right column is a link to get technical support. Unlike the iTunes Store and iOS App Store, Mac apps can’t be gifted.

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Step 13 of 17: 12 Uninstall Store-bought apps

Open Launchpad (F4 on recent Apple keyboards, or from its Dock icon or the Applications folder). To find an app in Launchpad, type some of   its name to filter what’s visible. Click and hold an app’s icon until it starts jiggling, then click the cross at its top-left corner to remove it.

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Step 14 of 17: 13 Uninstall other apps

Removing apps from places other than the Mac App Store works differently. If they were simply dragged into the Applications folder, just drag them to the Trash, though small preference files might be left behind. If they came with an installer, check the publisher’s website to see if there’s an uninstaller to reliably remove them, including supplementary files.

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Step 15 of 17: 14 Hide purchases

Click Purchases to see the apps you’ve already bought. Apps that are no longer on your Mac can be reinstalled from here, too. However, you might want to hide apps you won’t use again. To do that, Ctrl-click an app’s row, choose Hide Purchase, then confirm the decision. This doesn’t prevent receiving updates if the app is still installed.

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Step 16 of 17: 15 Restore purchases

Hidden apps can be restored to the list. Click Featured, then click Account in the Quick Links box. Enter your password and click the ‘View Account’ button to log in. In the page that appears, look under iTunes in the Cloud and click View Hidden Purchases. The Unhide button next to an app puts it back in the Purchases tab.

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Step 17 of 17: Extra Tip: Set up an account and payment

An iTunes Store account works with the Mac App Store. If you don’t have one, click ‘Sign In’ in the Featured section’s Quick Links box. Click ‘Create Apple ID’ and follow the instructions.

If you don’t want to use a bank card, the code below the scratch-away panel on an Apple gift card can be entered instead. Additional gift cards can be redeemed later from the Featured section. Click Redeem in the Quick Links box.

To update your payment method, including removing your card information altogether, click Account in the Quick Links box. Next to Payment Information, click Edit.

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