How to install apps on your Mac (2023)

While it’s true that Macs come with loads of great software that can help you get most things done out of the box, it won’t be long before you need to add your own favourite programs to the Dock at the bottom of your screen. Here’s how to download and install apps from the Mac App Store or directly from the developer’s website, plus we’ll discuss what to do if you can’t install the software to your Mac.

Before we explain how to download and install apps, we’ll start off by explaining how to use the Mac App Store to find the apps you require.

How to find apps on the Mac App Store

The easiest way to download and install an app is by using Apple’s own App Store.

  1. You’ll find the Mac App Store in your Dock (the row of icons at the bottom of the desktop), just look for the blue icon with an A inside that looks like it’s made up of white sticks.

    How to install apps on your Mac (1)

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  2. Click on the icon to open up the Mac App Store.
  3. You should automatically be logged in with your Apple ID (see the bottom left corner). If not, enter the details when prompted. If you don’t already have an Apple ID you will need to create one. Read: How to create an Apple ID.
  4. Now you can peruse the various options on the store. The left-hand column has section headings to make it easier to find apps for certain purposes, for example click on Play to find games, Create for creative apps, Work for business applications, and so on.

    How to install apps on your Mac (2)

  5. Alternatively select Categories for even more app catgories to choose from, e.g. Music, Weather, News, Social Networking, Education, and so on.
  6. If you know the name of the app you’re after just type that into the Search box at the top of the window and press enter. This kind of search often brings up similar apps as well as the one you are looking for.
  7. The resuts you see will be divided in to Free Apps and Paid Apps. But beware that when it says it’s ‘Free’ there is often an In-App Purchase associated with the app that could make it more expensive than an alternative option.
  8. When you see an app that interests you, click on its icon to open the dedicated page. This will outline the various functions, display user reviews, and have some screenshots so you can see what it looks like.
  9. Scroll down further, to the section entitled Information, and you’ll also find the size of the file, whether it’s compatible with your Mac, plus any addition in-app purchases there may be. The latter is usually the form of Premium accounts that unlock additional features.

How to install apps from the Mac App Store

Once you have found the app you want to install on the Mac App Store installing it is simple:

  1. If the app is free click the Get button. (Or, if you’ve installed the app on previous Macs, rather than a Get button you will see a cloud icon that has an arrow pointing down from its centre, so click that instead).
  2. If this is an app you need to pay for there will be an amount inside the button so that you know that you’re about to spend money, click this.
  3. Once you’ve clicked the button, the word Install will appear. Click this and your Mac will automatically download the app.

    How to install apps on your Mac (3)

  4. You will see a new animation that indicate how the installation is progressing. If you want to stop the download/install at any time, just click the square in the middle of the circle.

How to find the app you downloaded

Once the install is finished you can search for the new app by using Spotlight.

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  1. Press Command + Space to open Spotlight and start to type the app’s name.
  2. When the app appears in Spotlight press enter to open it.
  3. Once the app opens it will appear in your Dock – if you want to keep it in the Dock right click on the Icon and choose Options > Keep In Dock.

Another way to locate the app is to click the Launchpad button (probably F4 on your keyboard) to display all your installed apps.

How to download apps from the web

The Mac App Store has a huge selection of apps, but not all developers host their creations there. Apple takes a hefty slice of the price of apps when they appear on its platform, so some developers prefer to go directly to customers instead. You may also find that some non-App Store versions have additional functionality or features, so it’s worth checking them out. If you know that an app is made by a small team, you should also consider supporting them by buying direct rather than propping up a huge corporation. It’s the digital equivalent of shopping locally.

To install an app from the web, visit the site of the app in question and you should see an option to download it somewhere. For example, in the image below you’ll see the home page for the excellent Fantastical calendar app. Below the main image you’ll see there’s an option to Download Now. This will be a pattern that you should see on all non-App store apps.

How to install apps on your Mac (4)

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  1. Click the Download Now button (or equivalent) and you should see a bar appear at the bottom of the screen with an icon inside indicating that the app is downloading.
  2. The file will either download to your Downloads folder, which you can find in the Dock. Or, in newer versions of Safari, you will see it in Safari Downloads (the icon for which is a circle with an arrow inside). We prefer to download straight to our Downloads folder, so right click on the Download Now and Choose Download Linked File As and change Where to to Downloads.
  3. Usually the name will have .zip at the end as this is a Zip file which compresses the file, making the size smaller, so that it downloads faster.

    How to install apps on your Mac (5)

  4. Once the app has downloaded you’ll be able to click on it to install it. For .zip files, double clicking will unzip the file, then you’ll need to double click it again to install it.
  5. If the file has .dmg at the end, then it isn’t compressed and double-clicking will begin the install immediately.

How to install apps from the web

Apple makes it a bit easier to install apps from the Mac App Store because the company is confident it has checked that the app is safe and secure. If you are installing an app from the web it is a little more complex because Apple wants to remind you to check you are sure the app is safe.

That’s not to say that Apple is handing over the responsibility to you. There are three types of apps you could be downloading from the web: an app made by an Apple certified developer (which should be safe), an app that isn’t certified (but you are sure is safe), or an app that isn’t safe at all and you shouldn’t install it. As we explain in our run through of how Apple makes sure Macs are secure, Apple has various measures to ensure you can’t install unsafe apps. One is Gatekeeper, which checks that the developer has a certificate issued by Apple, the other is XProtect, which is like Apple’s inbuilt antivirus software that blocks anything that has malicious code.

  1. The first step in installing the software will be to click on the downloaded file, which as we said above will either be a DMG or a zip. Double click on the file and the first thing you will probably see is a message like the one below warning saying that “[App Name]” is an app downloaded from the internet. Are you sure you want to open it?

    How to install apps on your Mac (6)

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  2. Click Open and the install will begin.
  3. You may be taken through an install wizard, with macOS indicating you should drag the app into the Application folder. Simply drag the app onto the folder icon then let go of the mouse button to complete the process. Now, you should find the app is ready to use when you click the Launchpad button in the dock.

If you see a warning stating that the app is from an ‘unidentified developer’ then you’ll need to tweak your security settings to be able to install the app. Read how to open a Mac app from an unidentified developer for advice on how to do this.

How to install unsupported apps

Sometimes you may not be able to install an app because the version of macOS you are running doesn’t support it.

Some older apps won’t work with recent versions of macOS. For example, Apple stopped supporting 32-bit versions of apps in macoS Catalina, which meant a number of apps no longer work if you install that version of macOS or any that followed it (Big Sur). Read: Apps that won’t work in Catalina. We have more information about what to do if your software ages out and some helpful tips in .

Alternatively it might be that there isn’t a Mac version of the app you want to run. In that case you could use a virtual machine software such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion to run Windows on your Mac (as long as it isn’t an M1 Mac). Read: Best virtual machine software for Mac and How to run Windows on the Mac. We also have a guide to running Windows apps on your Mac with Crossover, which enbles you to run Windows apps without running Windows!

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How to update Mac apps

Once you’ve installed your app, you’ll want to make sure you’re always using the latest version – this will help you avoid problems with the security of the app and any issues that might be caused by bugs and other changes.

You can enable automatic updates on the App Store so that your apps will be updated as soon as an update is issued. You can also set up your Mac to check for non-App store updates too. We explain how to achieve both of these scenarios in how to update all your Mac apps.

How to delete apps

Finally, if you decide that the app you’ve added to your system isn’t really what you were after, you’ll want to remove it to stop the files taking up valuable storage space. For this, you’ll want to read our step-by-step guide on how to uninstall Mac apps.


How do I completely install an app on my Mac? ›

Install apps

On your Mac, do any of the following: For apps downloaded from the Internet: In the Downloads folder, double-click the disk image or package file (looks like an open box). If the provided installer doesn't open automatically, open it, then follow the onscreen instructions.

Why does my Mac keep saying not enough disk space when there is? ›

My Mac says there's not enough disk space, but there is

It's basically the space taken by all the unnecessary stuff that can be purged and converted into free storage. One way to free up your purgeable space is to disable iCloud drive optimization. Open your System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.

How do I update my Mac when it says not enough space? ›

The following five methods are available to fix the 'Not enough space for macOS Ventura update' issue:
  1. Use macOS Storage Optimizer.
  2. Clean up junk files on Mac.
  3. Clean up the Mac Downloads folder.
  4. Uninstall applications on Mac.
  5. Delete Time Machine backups.
May 30, 2023

Why can't I install apps on my Mac? ›

Check Your Internet Connection

The first thing to try when you can't download from the Mac App Store is to check your internet connection. You must use a fast internet connection to download apps from the App Store. If you can't access the App Store, check if your Wi-Fi is turned off.

How do I install apps on my Mac without the App Store? ›

How to install software on Mac not from App Store
  1. Download an app from a developer's website or another trusted site.
  2. User MacKeeper to check the file for viruses.
  3. If it's a zip file, double-click it to open it. ...
  4. If you have a PKG installer, double-click it to run it and install the app.
Jan 11, 2023

How to download apps without App Store? ›

Visit the APKMirror website and search for an app you want to install on your Android device. You can browse apps by APK, app, and developer names. When you sort by app or developer rather than APK, choose the version of the app you want. If this doesn't matter to you, the latest non-beta version also works.

What if my Mac storage is full? ›

Move or delete files
  1. Delete music, movies, podcasts, or other media, especially if it's media that you can stream or download again as needed.
  2. Delete files in your Downloads folder. ...
  3. If you use the Mail app for your email, choose Mailbox > Erase Junk Mail from the menu bar in Mail.
Mar 8, 2023

How much free space do you need to install Monterey? ›

How much space do you need for Monterey?
  • 12 GB. macOS Monterey installer size.
  • 2 GB. Additional space needed for successful update.
Jul 12, 2021

Why can't I download any apps? ›

Confirm that no other apps are updating or installed in the Play Store. Clear the cache & data of the Play Store. Restart your phone. Check your storage space.

Is my Mac too old to update? ›

Apple advises that macOS Catalina will run on the following Macs: MacBook models from early 2015 or later. MacBook Air models from mid-2012 or later. MacBook Pro models from mid-2012 or later.

How do I fix not enough disk space? ›

Delete personal files or move them to an external storage device. Personal files such as videos, music, photos, and documents can take up a lot of space on your device. To see which files are using the most space: Select File Explorer from the taskbar and find the files you want to move.

How do I fix running out of disk space? ›

Cleaning out your PC on a regular basis frees up drive space and helps it run better. One of the easiest ways to clean up files you no longer need is by using Disk Cleanup. Open Disk Cleanup by clicking the Start button . In the search box, type Disk Cleanup, and then, in the list of results, select Disk Cleanup.

How to fix there is not enough space on the disk to complete this operation? ›

Part 2: How to Fix There is Not Enough Space on the Disk to Complete This Operation Windows 10?
  1. Fix 1: Rescan Disks in Disk Management. ...
  2. Fix 2: Check Current Partitions. ...
  3. Fix 3: Convert Basic Disk to Dynamic. ...
  4. Fix 4: Fix the Error That Occurs While Creating Partition. ...
  5. Fix 5: Try Disk Defragmenter to Free Up Disk Space.

Is there a difference between App Store and Mac App Store? ›

What's the difference between the App Store and the Apple Store? The App Store is from where you can purchase and download applications for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The Apple Store is from where you can buy their devices.

Can I download apps from Safari? ›

To find the perfect app or Safari extension, search for it or browse the App Store. After you find what you want, you can purchase it using your Apple ID, or you can redeem a download code or gift card.

Does Mac use an App Store? ›

Use the App Store on your Mac to find and download apps and get app updates for your Mac. Before you can purchase or update an app from the App Store, you must sign in with your Apple ID.

What to do if you don t have App Store? ›

App Store app missing on iPhone or iPad
  1. Launch Settings app on your iOS device.
  2. Now, tap on Screen Time.
  3. Now Content & Privacy Restriction.
  4. Next, you have to enter your Restrictions passcode.
  5. Now tap on iTunes & App Store Purchases.
  6. Click on Installing Apps.
  7. Now, make sure the switch next to Installing Apps is ON.
Apr 8, 2020

How can I download apps on my laptop without Play Store? ›

To get a game or app from Microsoft Store: To see more of any category, select Show all at the end of the row. Select the app or game you'd like to download, and then select Get. Sign in with your Microsoft account to finish downloading your app or game.

How do I get more storage on my Mac? ›

We'll show you both cheap and elaborate options for adding more storage to a MacBook.
  1. Use an External Hard Drive or SSD. You may already have an external hard drive. ...
  2. Buy Thunderbolt RAID Systems. ...
  3. Use SD Cards. ...
  4. Upgrade Your Internal SSD. ...
  5. Use Network Storage. ...
  6. Leverage Cloud Storage Solutions. ...
  7. Get a USB Hub With Built-In Storage.
May 7, 2023

Why is my Mac storage full when I have iCloud? ›

Backups of your devices are often the culprits behind a full iCloud storage space. It's entirely possible you had your old iPhone set to upload backups to the cloud automatically, and then never removed those files.

How do I add more storage to my MacBook air? ›

You can use USB-based storage on an external disk drive. MacBook Airs are not meant to be customer-opened to add or change storage. Apple will not do this for you either. You can sell your MacBook Air and purchase a new model with more storage.

How many GB should I leave free Mac? ›

For example, if you have a 256GB SSD drive in your Mac, you should keep at least 13GB free at all times, preferably more.

How much free storage should you have on Mac? ›

How Much Free Space Do You Need? In general, you should keep as much space on your drive as free as possible. A good guide for the minimum on the amount would be to keep at least 15 percent of your startup drive free at all times, although more is better.

How many GB of free space should I leave? ›

Mechanical Hard Drives

For most HDDs, it is recommended to leave 15% to 20% of a drive empty. The free space on traditional hard drives is important so that Windows could defragment it. A minimum of 15% free space will allow Windows to properly defragment the drive.

How do I install an app from an unidentified developer Mac? ›

Open System Preferences. Go to the Security & Privacy tab. Click on the lock and enter your password so you can make changes. Change the setting for 'Allow apps downloaded from' to 'App Store and identified developers' from just App Store.

How do I install a .pkg file on a Mac? ›

Download the . pkg file. Navigate to the folder that contains the file and open it to launch the installation program or drag the icon to your Application folder. The Introduction screen indicates the target location for the installation, which you can change later in the install process.

How do I install a DMG file on my Mac? ›

Click the link to download a disk image (.dmg) file for that macOS. Double-click the .dmg file to open it and see the .pkg file within. Double-click the .pkg file, then follow the onscreen instructions. This installs the macOS installer into your Applications folder.

How do I manually install an app? ›

Download apps to your Android device
  1. Open Google Play. On your phone, use the Play Store app . ...
  2. Find an app you want.
  3. To check that the app is reliable, find out what other people say about it. ...
  4. When you pick an app, tap Install (for no-charge apps) or the app's price.

Is downloading an app the same as installing it? ›

Downloading the file is not the same as “installing” the file. “Installing” the downloaded file means giving instructions to take the downloaded information and use it to change your computer. Without installation, the file just sits there, and nothing is changed or updated.

How do I allow downloads on my Mac? ›

View the app security settings on your Mac

In System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, then click General. Click the lock and enter your password to make changes. Select App Store under the header “Allow apps downloaded from.”

How do I use unverified apps on Mac? ›

Control-click the app icon, then choose Open from the shortcut menu. Click Open. The app is saved as an exception to your security settings, and you can open it in the future by double-clicking it just as you can any registered app.

Why can't i open an app on my Mac? ›

You may not have the privileges to open the app, the app may be damaged, or it may not be installed. If you aren't an administrator of your Mac, the administrator may be preventing you from using the app. Contact the administrator of your Mac.

How to install pkg on Mac from unidentified developer? ›

To override your security settings and open the app anyway, follow these steps:
  1. In the Finder on your Mac, locate the app you want to open. Don't use Launchpad to do this. ...
  2. Control-click the app icon, then choose Open from the shortcut menu.
  3. Click Open.

What is a PKG file on Mac? ›

pkg (package) is a filename extension used for several file formats that contain packages of software and other files to be installed onto a certain device, operating system, or filesystem, such as the macOS, iOS, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.


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