How to Use the Mac App Store

Discover how the design of the store can work for you

Mac App Store included with macOS Mojave

The Mac App Store, first introduced in 2011 continues to evolve with each update to the macOS. The Mac App Store now takes many of its cues from the iOS App Store, even to the point of mimicking some of the features found in iOS 11 and later.

Using the Mac App Store gets easier and easier and while the ease of installing and updating apps remains a key feature, the Mac App Store has seen significant upgrades.

Mac App Store Sidebar

As of macOS Mojave, the Mac App Store uses a two-pane interface composed of a sidebar and a general display pane. The sidebar contains a search box, allowing you to enter all or part of an apps name, description, or keyword. As you enter the search criteria, the search box will provide suggestions to complete the search phrase.

Search results are shown in the display pane and selecting one of the search results will bring the apps product page up.

Mac App Store search box

The sidebar also contains key Mac App Store functions and categories

Discover- The Mac App Store features a central discovery feed promoting apps selected by Apple as new, innovative, unusual, best in class, or that piqued the interest of the Apple curator. The key to the Discovery feed is that each app mentioned includes autoplay videos and rich interactive content to help introduce the viewer to the featured app.

Create, Work, Play, and Develop- Keeping it simple, the Mac App Store uses four primary categories for organizing apps. Each of these categories will showcase featured apps with product descriptions, images, as well as a quick look at the developer and any interesting background information such as why they created the app, or what they think is the best feature.

Each of the Create, Work, Play, and Develop categories will highlight one or more apps and is a good way to find apps that are new to you. But you can also dive deeper into the category, using the See All button to reveal additional apps Apple is featuring.

Categories- Those wishing to browse through the Mac App Store and bypass those apps Apple is featuring can use the Categories item in the Mac App sidebar. This will display a large number of app categories that you can choose ranging from business to weather, and everything in-between.

Picking one of the many categories will reveal apps that fit the selected category. Apps will appear in a Top Paid or Top Free list, or you can select to view all paid or all free apps.

Product Pages

The apps product pages feature larger screenshots of the app, video previews (when provided), and a more prominent user review and rating sections. The product page also has an easier to access information center that provided details about the app such as size, privacy policy, age rating, and links to the developer's website or app support site.

Mac App Store product page

Downloading and Installing Apps

The Mac App Store takes care of downloading and installing apps you select. Each app's product page will include either a button displaying the purchase price or for a free app, a Get button. Clicking on the button featuring the price of an app will cause the button to change from displaying the price to displaying Buy App. Clicking the Buy App button will usually lead to a request to sign-in using your Apple ID and password. Depending on how you have your purchase preferences setup it is possible that no request to sign-in will occur if you have already made a purchase in the last 15 minutes.

After you have successfully sign-in the download will begin.

In the case of free apps, clicking the Get button will cause the button text to change to say Get App, clicking the button again will either display the sign-in option or depending on how you have the Mac App store preference set, the free apps may just start the download process directly.

Once a purchased or free app's download completes, the button will change to say Open. Clicking the Open button will launch the app.

As part of the install process, the app is added to the LaunchPad app. You can find the Launchpad app in the Dock. The newly installed app will be the last entry in the Launchpad app. You can also find the app in your /Application folder where double-clicking the app's name will launch the application.

Updates

Updating apps you downloaded are handled by the Mac App Store. When the developer posts a new version, update or fix for bugs or security issues, the Mac App Store will notify you that an update is available. Depending on how you have setup the Mac App store preferences, updates can be automatically downloaded and installed as they become available, or they can be configured to require you to selectively pick which updates to apply.

In either case, available updates will be displayed when you select the Updates item in the Mac App sidebar.

Time to Explore

The Mac App Store is meant for exploring and that is one of the best ways to learn how to become familiar with its features. Go ahead and give it a spin, try downloading a free app or two, maybe add a review and rating for an app you have used.

It's likely your going to find new apps you didn’t know where available, and that’s the point of the Mac App Store, discovering new apps for your Mac.