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.


Vito Traino said…
Here's the thing. On a Mac, there is no .exe, but there is .dmg. This stands for Disk Image, kind of like a virtual drive, which is why it "mounted" below your Macintosh HD. when you open it all you have to do is drag the big Firefox (or other app) icon into the applications folder, and 99% of the time it is installed and ready to go. Then drag from the Applications folder to the dock, and there it will permanently reside.

This may seem different, but it is nice because you can test a program out without going through the whole process, and if you don't like it, you can just eject the .dmg. It wont take you long to get the hang of it.

P.S.-- I am Godfatherrr over at Mac-Forums.
David Alison said…
@vito: Thanks for posting here vito! Yeah, I've slowly started to figure out quite a bit - I was only a day into my Mac when I started installing some external applications. It's very different than Windows though I have already gotten the hang of it.
Vito Traino said…
If you have any other questions, you are always welcome to ask at Mac-Forums, or just post them here and I'll comment back. I will also frequent this blog mainly because we are in the same boat, and I love to hear everyone's opinion. Keep up the blogging!
David Alison said…
Thanks Vito. I've found the a huge help - lots of people in the same boat. The main reason I put this blog together is because you really only get one chance to be a newbie at this like I am and I'm hoping that by recording it others that are new to Mac from Windows - or Windows people considering switching - will be able to come in here and get some perspective.
Vito Traino said…
Well thats a great idea...i wish I would have done that! :)

I'm just here for the ride to comment and help you and your other viewers.
Xcalybur said…
The vast majority of Mac software, especially 3rd party non-Apple, will have you drag the application to the applications folder. Here is the the major difference between Mac and Windows. Windows has a registry and Mac does not. The application, such as firefox, actually isn't an application. It is a container that the OS X treats as a self contained app that runs. Actually, you can right click on the app icon and Open Contents and it will open it just like a folder and show you all the "real" stuff inside that makes the app run. The advantage of this is that a user can usually put the app anywhere on the system that you want. Some mac software requires that you put it in the applications folder because it wants to know what path it has to change to in order to get to some other system library. Apps that don't need this (most of them) you can technically put anywhere on your hard drive. The registry is the largest weakness of Windows and has been since it's inception. Mac OS X doesn't have this problem. Enjoy it!

PS. The way you uninstall an app is to go to the applications folder or wherever the app is and delete the whole container. That easy.
David Alison said…
Thanks Chris! Great tip on the Show Package Contents! Fun to be able to dig around. As a techie I can't leave well enough alone; I always want to know what's really happening.
Robert Zeljko said…
I'm also Windows old timer who switched to Mac recently. I myself had the same idea and started writing my observations, things I liked and disliked from the day one. Its cool to see there are like-minded people out there.
I also had the same problem installing Firefox. I was looking at the Firefox logo on one side and Applications folder on the other and was wondering what is going on. It did take me a while to realize that I need to drag Firefox icon over to the Applications icon.
Anyway, I don't see this as being deficiency or advantage of Mac vs Windows platform.
On Windows, you can do the same if you like. Nobody is forcing you to write installers for Windows. Same for Mac. Nobody is stopping you from writing the install app. Microsoft Office for Mac does have installer and uninstaller. I personally think that if your application is simple and all files are in one place, you don't need installer. On the other hand if you install a daemon or modify launch items, you should have installer and uninstaller.
One thing which people often glance over when uninstalling an application is that sometimes you can't just drop app folder into the trash bin and say its done. In case of Adium for example, it installs Growl and if for some reason you wanted all of it removed, you would have to know where Growl installed and remove that too.
I don't see why is having registry a weakness. I would like to see some arguments to back that up.
SD said…
Vito explained the thing right.
I think Apple should do an entire chapter about DMG on its web page for switchers. Among every colleagues of mine who switched to the Mac, the DMG concept is the most hard to figure out.
But it is true that being able to test a program directly from a CD or DVD or Web without even copying on the hard drive is really a killer feature.

Another use of disk images is to rip an entire CD or DVD, and using the image instead of the physical support (nice for travel or backup).

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