Installing Software

When it comes to expanding your collection of software, your first question might be "What are my options?" You'll be pleased to hear that, despite being a relatively new operating system, Mac OS X already has many available applications. The only tricky part is knowing where to find them.

Fortunately, a number of good online libraries feature Mac OS X software. (If you need to learn more about how to get online or how use a Web browser, those topics are discussed in Chapter 4, "Using the Internet.")

The following sites present the latest and greatest Mac OS X programs that are available for download or on CD-ROM (by purchase):

  • VersionTracker Updated continually, VersionTracker's Web site is often the first to carry new Mac OS X software. As a nearly comprehensive catalog, it also works as a handy reference guide. To find what you need, just type the name or a keyword for a product into the search field.

  • Mac OS X Apps This site features in-depth discussions about new software and uses.

  • Apple's Mac OS X Downloads Although smaller than the previous two sites, Apple's software compendium is well documented and easily navigated.

Later in this hour , we recommend several interesting applications on these sites that you might want to try.

Task: Downloading and Installing Software

Although there's no single installation technique for all software that's available for the Mac OS X, you'll see in this hour that there are two common methods . Obviously, you should read the documentation that comes with your software if you want to be certain of the results, but for those who are anxious to double-click, this section offers a basic description of what to expect.


If you would rather purchase your software from a mail-order or in-store vendor, just make sure to read the product information to ensure compatibility with Mac OS X, or with Mac OS 9 if you need to run the application in Classic mode, as discussed in Chapter 3, "Working with Windows, Folders, Files, and Applications." The installation process for disc images (explained later in the hour) still applies.

Begin by choosing a piece of software you'd like to try that is available online. The sites listed previously offer free software for all purposes (for some suggestions, look ahead a couple pages), and sometimes limited-time trials of commercial software can be downloaded. After you locate where to download the software, you're ready to begin:

  1. On the software download page, determine which version your system requires and click that link. Be sure to choose a version that's made for Mac OS X.

  2. If you're using Internet Explorer, your system begins downloading your selection, and a Download Manager window, similar to that shown in Figure 6.1, appears on your screen.

    Figure 6.1. You can monitor the status of an item as it downloads.


  3. When the download is finished, several icons appear on your desktop, similar to Figure 6.2. The icon with the extension .gz represents a special file that has been encoded for easy storage and download. We'll talk more about this in the "Opening Compressed Files with StuffIt Expander" section later in this chapter. Another common type of download file ends with a .sit extension and contains the same files, but in an unencoded and compressed form.

    Figure 6.2. When you download software, several new icons appear on the desktop.


  4. The final installation step could differ , depending on the application you're working with. Here are the three major variations:

    If a folder icon appears on your desktop, you must open it to reach the application file. The folder also usually contains a ReadMe file that explains what to do next . This kind of install exists only for very small programs.

    If a file icon with the extension .pkg or .mpkg appears, double-clicking will start the Apple Installer, which provides a simple step-by-step guide to installation. (The Apple Installer, by the way, is also used by most commercial software distributed on CD.)

    Finally, if a disk image icon appears, as with the Chimeradisk icon shown second from the bottom in Figure 6.2, double-clicking it mounts the disk, which you can then double click to open a Finder window containing the installation instructions. (By the way, you can recognize disk images because they have the .dmg file extension.)

    For example, when installing the Chimera Web browser, opening the disk icon results in the screen shown in Figure 6.3, which contains an icon for you to drag to the Applications folder on your hard drive.

    Figure 6.3. To install Chimera, simply drag the image to a folder in a Finder window.


When you've placed the file or folder where you want it, usually in the Applications folder, your application is ready for use. You can also place applications in other folders, if you have good reason. (We'll discuss this further in a little while.)


To uninstall most software, simply locate the application file or folder and drag it to the Trash. Under Mac OS X, you should find most application folders in the systemwide Applications folder.

You can drag all the files that appeared on your desktop during download and installation to the Trash.


To eject a disk image from your computer, you can't be running the software contained on that disk.

If you try to move a disk image to the trash and get an error message that the item is in use, you probably didn't copy the contents of the disk image to your hard drive and are instead working off the disk image. To fix the problem, close the file, and then copy the disk image to the Mac OS X drive. Now the disk image should eject.

Opening Compressed Files with StuffIt Expander

You might have noticed that the downloaded files launch another application whose icon appears briefly in the Dock, as shown in Figure 6.4. That application is StuffIt Expander.

Figure 6.4. When the download is finished, StuffIt Expander goes to work.


You need StuffIt for use with compressed files. Because applications tend to be very large files, they come in a compressed form that takes up less space and makes downloading them faster and easier. These compressed files are also referred to as archive files because they're compact and easily stored.

Compression can be done in several different ways. Mac OS X supports several methods, including .sit (StuffIt) files and .tar and .gz files.

To install applications that come as archive files, you must return them to their original state. Recovering a full- sized file from its archive file is known as extraction . That's where StuffIt Expander, a tool included with Mac OS X, comes into play.

StuffIt Expander uncompresses most common archive types, and makes it simple for anyone to start downloading software. Most of the time, StuffIt Expander opens automatically when it's needed and leaves uncompressed folders on the desktop along with the original archive file. An example of this was shown in Figure 6.2 (the icon with the .gz text below it).

StuffIt Expander is located on your system at Applications/Utilities/StuffIt Expander . You might never need to start it manually, but you can use a number of settings in its Preferences dialog box to control actions, such as how StuffIt deals with files after extraction.

Choosing an Applications Folder

Mac OS X is a multiuser system, something that will be fully explained in Chapter 27, "Sharing (and Securing) Your Computer." For now though, we will talk about the implications of a multiuser system and where to place software you install on you system. When it comes to installing software, this seemingly small detail really matters.

When you install applications, keep in mind that other users don't necessarily have access to your home folder. If you install a large application in your home folder, you might be the only person who can use it, which could lead to other users installing copies of this same application on the same machine. To best utilize disk space and resource sharing, major applications should be installed in the system's Applications folder or in a subdirectory of Applications, rather than inside your home folder, so that everyone can use it.

One other issue: Be sure to read your software license agreements regarding operation by multiple users. If an application is licensed for only a single user (rather than a single computer), it should not be placed in the Applications folder where any other person can have access.

Sams Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media. All In One
Sams Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media All In One
ISBN: 0672325322
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 349 © 2008-2017.
If you may any questions please contact us: