Installation differences between mac apps and pc apps

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by moveright, May 19, 2012.

  1. moveright macrumors member

    Apr 18, 2012
    First off, if there is a decent FAQ that explains specifically what I wish to learn, please point me to it.

    I'm a very analytical person and as such --coming from windows-- I'd like to know the specific differences in what actually happens when a program installs on mac vs windows.

    I realize that mac has no registry to hold user settings, etc. I assume mac programs just use per-user config files which are dynamically created similar to linux.

    Aside from that(and even that may be inaccurate), I know very little. I see when I download a .dmg file, it's mounted but where does there appear only to be a program file and little else? shouldn't there be many folders and files with pieces of the software?

    thanks in advance for the insight!
  2. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    An "*.app" file is actually a special kind of directory/folder.

    These special folders are called bundles in OS X.

    Right click on an app and you can "Show Package Contents" to see what is in it.

    Some apps store preferences etc.. in there, others in the system wide /Library folder and still others in a user specific ~/Library folder ...

  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Installing Applications in Mac OS X
    Uninstalling Applications in Mac OS X

    The most effective method for complete app removal is manual deletion:
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd suggest you get a good book on how Unix works and read about executable files. And then set your Mac up so that you can see invisible files and folders. And then look at the logs when things are installed. It will give you a good look at how things are installed and where, and can help you with troubleshooting down the line.

    The Mac OS X way of doing it is pretty much just a great GUI on top of that structure. And some different naming conventions and such. What you'd probably think of as configuration files for applications are specially formatted preference files in ~/Library/Preferences. You can download applications that will look inside those as well, and you can learn to do some direct manipulation of simple ones. A utility like MacPilot is handy as well; it let’s you look deeper into these structures.

    Just keep good backups and be careful, but you'll have some fun messing around with it.

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