Thoughts on the Mac App Store

Thoughts on the Mac App Store for N00bs

Switching to a Mac is very easy – in my experience most people can fully adapt in just two weeks of normal usage, with 50% of all switchers feeling comfortable after just 10 days. That said the most difficult thing to explain to any Mac user is how to install a new app. There is more than one way to do it, but let’s assume a person downloads a new program from a website, here are the steps the must take:

For .DMG Installation

  1. Double click the ZIP file (if there is one, skip if Safari auto-extracts for you)
  2. Double click the .DMG file
  3. If .DMG’s Finder window doesn’t come into the front, find that window
  4. Now sometimes you get instruction in this window, other times you don’t, but one of two things need to be done.
    1. Drag the app to your ‘applications’ folder
    2. Double-click the installer
  5. Now you are done.
  6. Except that you need to eject the .DMG
  7. Then delete the .DMG file

For ZIP File Installation

  1. Double click the ZIP file (skip if Safari auto-extracts for you)
  2. Drag the Application to your ‘Applications’ folder or Double-click installer.

The Problem

None of these steps are obvious to new Mac users – none. The DMG method is the most complicated, yet most common method. It is so common because it is the only method that offers the developer a chance to tell the user how to install the application.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard new Mac users say these things:

  • “I installed a new program, but then I restarted my computer and it got un-installed, how do I keep that from happening” (They were launching the app out of the .DMG file)
  • “Oh that application is in my downloads folder.” (Zip file method and they left the app where it got ‘installed’)
  • “Oh it is right here, I dragged it to my desktop so I could open it.”

What a headache all of these are for experience Mac users.

The Mac App Store Will Help

It will help, but not completely solve the problem. The Mac App Store will help make sure apps get in the right spot when they are installed, and help by putting the icon directly in the dock (according to the Demo). What the Mac App Store won’t do is fix the problem for all the developers that are not in the App Store.

A Mac App Store will also help keep programs updated. A common thing that happens in my household is that I will ask why my Wife hasn’t updated a particular app to the newest version and she will say: “I ran Software Update.” She of course means that she ran Mac OS X’s software update, not the one for that particular app. And how is she, or any other new Mac user, supposed to know that Software Update is just for Apple programs?

Don’t even get me started on uninstalling apps…

Originally posted for members on: October 21, 2010
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