Parallel Desktops

Installing New Applications

I have yet to have mastered how to install applications into my Mac.

The first one I decided to try was Firefox. I went to the web site and it recognized that I was running a Mac. I clicked on the download link and everything proceeded pretty smoothly. I ran the install program that was downloaded and after the usual warnings about installing a different application I thought I had the application installed.

There was an odd little window up that had a Firefox logo so I clicked that and up came Firefox. Cool – worked great. Sitting on my desktop though was a little icon below my Macintosh HD icon for Firefox. Wasn’t sure what that was about but I just went on my way.

I ended up shutting down my Mac not long after the install. When I fired it back up Firefox was no where to be found! It wasn’t in my Dock bar on the bottom and when I went into the Finder I couldn’t find it in my applications! WTF?

Turns out after I ran the installer the big Firefox logo that came up was actually prompting me to drag that into my Applications folder within the Finder! Oooooh… Nope, didn’t get that one. In Windows the installers generally add it to your Start menu; not sure if that’s typical of Mac software or just a decision made by the folks that made the Firefox installer.

Guess I’ll figure that out on the next application I install.

By David Alison

I bought my first Mac almost 24 years ago when DOS ruled the world. I didn't keep it too long though. I was just kicking off my career as a software engineer and needed to go with PCs. I bought my 2nd Mac in February of 2008. I didn't expect that I would find myself using the machine as much as I have. It's not that I hate Windows (well, I pretty much hate Vista but XP is a fine OS), it's just that I find myself constantly playing with this machine.

I'll share with you here my experiences of making the move from Windows to Macintosh. I still have a foot in both worlds, hence the name of my section.

4 replies on “Installing New Applications”

Actually I agree with you on this.

Most actually have an Alias to the the Applications folder which means simply dragging the app to the alias and the install is done. However FireFox’s image showing what to do is dumb. I remember the first time I downloaded FireFox and tried to drag the app to the image only to watch FireFox simply change position in the window. It was at this point I realised the idiocy of FireFox’s method.

@Loweded Wookie: Yep, it is an adjustment. Since I wrote that piece I’ve installed dozens of apps (and promptly removed nearly as many). Nearly every other application either dropped the application into my Applications folder or gave explicit instructions to drag the application icon into the Applications folder. Firefox remains the only one that assumed that a Firefox icon and an arrow pointing to an icon of the Applications folder was enough.

I don’t think this was so much a switcher thing (I have several of those now), but more an “assumption about users” thing from the Mozilla gang. It was just unfortunate that Firefox happened to be the first application I installed.

Installing apps is so much easier on a Mac than on PC for the simple reason it’s a matter of drag and drop. There is no registry and there is no DLLs strewn all over the place.

Instead the files required by the application are stored within the application itself. Believe it or not a Mac app isn’t an exe in the sense of a Windows app but is actually a folder that contains the app. Double clicking effectively runs a shortcut that runs the executable in the folder but you don’t have to traverse the folder to run that executable.

Removing an app is a little trickier but is still easier than on Windows and more reliable if you have the right tools. I recommend App Delete which is a drag and drop uninstaller that works pretty well in most cases:

The big problem for switchers is they continue to think about how Windows does things. A DMG file is more like an ISO so it needs to be mounted everytime you want to use it. I expect the image on the Dock you saw was because the DMG wasn’t mounted and so it had no idea where to look for the program.

A PKG file is more along the lines of the Windows Setup.exe and .MSI files but most applications don’t need anything more than a drag and drop but some require to copy files all over the place like for instance M$ Office which needs to place fonts in an accessible place and so they need the PKG setup.

My friend ran Firefox off the disk image for 3 years before she figured it out. I figured that out when I was trying to revive her hard drive after a short coma. Now I understood how she burnt through 2 Dells in 3 years before going Mac.

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