Help! Store/transfer applications on USB flash drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by b.dawl, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. b.dawl macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2013
    I've come to the conclusion that this is either way easier than I'm making it out to be, or it's just not possible. You know how when you install certain applications and all you have to do is drag it to the Applications folder - then TADA! - it just works? Well, basically that's what I want to do using a flash drive.

    The goal is to free up some space on my HD and put my OCD-ish, clean-freak mind at ease. I have several applications that I don't (or rarely) use anymore. Not all of these apps came from the App Store. Instead of uninstalling them, I'd like to save them to my USB drive in case I decide to use them again in the future.

    My Googling didn't get me very far in figuring this out. I've also tried the old, "drag and drop" method while the flash drive was plugged in, but it doesn't allow me to move the app to it.

    Along with that, here are my other related questions:

    1. Are there associated system files that also need to be transferred, and how do I know if there are? (aka what's the indicator if they aren't all in the .app bundle?)

    2. If the answer to number 1. is "yes" for any particular app, where do I find the associated files?

    3. If/when I decide to use an app that I stored on the USB, do I have to reinstall and authenticate with serial numbers, etc. like I did when I initially installed the app on my MacBook? If so, I don't want to deal with that - is there anyway to store it already authenticated and ready to go?

    If you can help me out with this, you'll undoubtedly be my biggest hero...of all time...ever! Input (relevant to solving my problem) is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance :)
  2. asriznet macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2013
    Most applications stored it's data in the "~/Library/Application Support" folder which is on the startup disk. Usually the size of this data are not that big and you cannot easily change the location to the flash drive even if you want to. This location is set by the application developer unless you know how to override this, it has to stay there.

    See above

    I'm sure you can test this out easily.

    I tried to copy an app AirServer to my ext HDD and launched it, it still have a record of my full licence. But I'm not sure if this is the same across other applications. Furthermore this drag n drop method will only work with .app applications. Apps like Microsoft Office, adobe CS will not work.

    To be safe, instead of moving the app, just copy them over to the flash drive first and launch to test. If all okay, you can delete off the one in your Applications folder.
  3. b.dawl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2013
    Ugh. Bummer...Thanks for your input though!

    ATTENTION: Any app developers out there reading this need to get on an app that will do everything (from my original post) ASAP - guaranteed millionaire status in no time! :)
  4. deenamathew macrumors newbie

    Sep 15, 2014
  5. b.dawl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 10, 2013

    Took me quite a bit of research a fiddling around, but I think I found a solution.

    After I wrote this in my original post:
    "You know how when you install certain applications and all you have to do is drag it to the Applications folder - then TADA! - it just works? Well, basically that's what I want to do using a flash drive. "

    It got me thinking...I know there are plenty of people out there that (illegally) download applications to get them for free, so there has to be a way for me to essentially "crack" my own (legitimate) applications for myself.

    Here's what I came up with:

    1. Download a compression tool, specifically one that creates DMG images. (I ended up choosing Keka. It's free...and works great!

    2. I found out that for the most part, any applications ending in .app contain all the program files necessary to run the app (aka no hidden system files scattered throughout my HD). For all of my .app applications, I just created a DMG and saved it to my flash drive ... trying to save applications that aren't in pretty little .app bundles (such as Adobe Photoshop) adds another step

    3. Use AppCleaner to show all system files associated with the application. To do this, I just took my Photoshop app and dragged it to the app cleaner, as if I were going to delete it. Then, I took a screen shot of all the listed files to show their locations in the HD. I clicked "delete" to move all the files to the trash bin. (trash was currently empty at the time). From there, I copied all the files in the trash to my flash drive. On the flash drive I then created a folder that I chose to label "Photoshop". I stuck the system files (from the trash bin), the disk image of the app, and the screen shot in the folder. Now, when I go to use Photoshop in the future, I can put all the system files where they belong, based on the screenshot image I took. It's a little extra effort, but I'm okay with that.

    I think there's still room for improvement...There's got to be a way to package all the app contents and system files in one nice little package, but I'm not quite on the level of an app developer just yet. So, for now, this solution works for me.

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