Installing an application: what do YOU do...

Discussion in 'macOS' started by qtip919, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. qtip919 macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    Okay - this isnt as much of a newbie question as you may think.

    I am wondering if everyone follows this same process:

    To install a "downloaded" application

    1. Select the application from any good ol trustable website
    example: great app here for a calendar in the menubar (one of my favorites)

    2. After the download has completed, a new window appears with the application (and potentially a read me file)
    3. At this stage, I guess you need to open a new finder window so you can properly drag the file into the Application folder.

    My point >>> It is at this stage, that I feel like this process loses some of the elegance that drag and drop installation offers.

    As a workaround, I have created a folder on my dock for applications. This presents a very windows-like start menu of sorts.

    I would love to know if someone does this in a better way...

    Also, can someone explain to me the whole .dmg thing which then creates a new "drive" from which I then open it up and it contains the app...I have never really understood what is happening here...
    (despite the fact that I can easily do what I need to do)
  2. darkcurse macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2005
    LoL, I used to do the same thing on windows but to emulate the dock on OSX. I had a folder of shortcuts of my most used programs on my taskbar so that they were easily accessible. I think thats what the dock is for. Its much more intuitive and graphically pleasing than windows' start menu. And you can always open up the Applications folder using the keyboard shorcut if you need to access a program that isn't in your dock. As for me, I usually just drag most of the programs I frequently use into the dock. Easy :D

    This has got to do with the whole consistency of the operating system. A ".dmg" file basically is a compressed folder which can contain anything. You can think of it kind of like a ".zip" or a ".rar" file. The only difference is that, you mount the ".dmg" and it appears on your desktop and usually opens a finder window with the application inside. And its not too difficult to drag the icons into the applications folder as there is a "shortcut" on the left hand side bar, usually.
  3. zerolight macrumors 6502


    Mar 6, 2006
    I think this all comes from the unix backend that's behind OS X. Unix can mount disk images. Be they images of a CD-Rom, Hard Drive, or whatever. The Mac thus can do the same.

    On windows if you get an ISO file for a DVD (whether that be a movie or an application DVD) then all you can really do with that is burn it, then pop it into your DVD rom drive where it's accessible. OK, so you can get third party software that will open it.

    On a Mac however, it's a whole different ball game. The Mac, like Unix, sees the disc image and can mount it. The OS treats it as if you've got a DVD in your DVD drive. It essentially replaces the DVD hardware with a mounted disc images which behaves exactly like a DVD in the DVD drive.

    Now the Mac can do this with any disc image, not just a DVD image. Notice that if you plug a USB memory key or card reader into your Mac, that device is mounted on the Mac and appears as if it were another disk drive on the Mac. The icon on your desktop that appears is meant to represent a disk drive of sorts, rather than a folder. If you take a disc image, such as a .dmg file, then this is treated the same way. Because that's what it is, a software representation of a usb memory key, if you like. And unlike a DVD image where it's mapped to your DVD drive in the Mac, you can mount multiple dmg files and they all act as if you've got lots of memory keys plugged into your Mac.

    So in a nutshell, the mac treats iso files, toast files, and any other DVD image, as a software representation of a DVD. It mounts it and allows you to access it as if it were a DVD. It treats dmg files, and any other type of disk image file as if it were a USB Memory key (or some other portable storage device) and mounts that and allows you to access it as if it were such a storage device. Obviously as they are actually on the HDD and not connected via USB or Firewire, they are much faster to access, but other than that their operation is the same.

    That's really what a dmg is all about.

    On a side note, the little Icon inside the dmg that we consider to be the application we're going to install, is actually a folder containing all the files the application needs to run. All self contained, rather than being installed in the Windows folder, Program Files folder, and System folder on a windows based PC. And for that reason it doesn't need an installer of any kind, and just drags and drops instead. Which is neat.

    As to how I install. I just open up a Finder window and choose the folder I want to install into (I've split my Applications folder into a number of sub folders within Applications, so that I can better find the application I'm looking for). Dragging an application from the disk image window to a Finder window is still way more elegant that having to step through an installShield based setup program to install the same application on Windows. (I've got around 13 years Windows experience and 4 months Mac experience).
  4. timmac macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2006
    Hattiesburg, MS
    If your finder window (with the application you want to install) has the sidebar, just drag the app to the application folder on the sidebar.

    Of course, some dmg's open up in a custom window showing only the app and you can't add the sidebar to the custom window.
  5. kretzy macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2004
    Canberra, Australia
    I usually just have another Finder window open and drag to the sidebar. I do like the applications that have a shortcut to the Applications folder next to the program so that all that is involved is a short drag. I don't see why all applications don't do this.
  6. Yuvi macrumors member

    Jun 27, 2006
    That's how Mac OS X mounts disk images now, but disk images have been a part of Mac OS for as long as I can remember. Since System 7, at least. Whenever Disk Copy (I think that's its name) first came out.

    If you click the clear button in the upper right of the Finder window, the sidebar should be toggled on and off.

    As for what I do, I tend to just drag it to my desktop and run it from there for a while, until my desktop becomes so cluttered that I move it into one of my Application folders (I keep one in my home folder for minor applications that I don't use often.) My desktop is always interesting to look at, and my idea of cleaning tends to be to dump everything currently on my desktop to a new folder, including the folder from the last such purge. I think I have five or six levels of this now.
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    As mentioned above (sorry, started writing this, got sidetracked, returned way later): by default, the sidebar will show the Applications folder icon. Just drag the app over to that. No need for a new Finder window unless you need to create a new folder within Applications. Note that if you drag the app over to the Applications icon and hover there without releasing, the Applications folder will open on the right and you can then drag the app into a subfolder if one already exists in Applications.
    Usually (always?) all you need to do is click the little white "pill" in the upper right of the window to open it up and show the Sidebar, even for custom windows.

    Attached Files:

  8. bigandy macrumors G3


    Apr 30, 2004
    I agree :)

    One programme: Daemon Tools. Recommended by MSDN and all.... ;)
  9. live4ever macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2003
    I like to use Quicksilver once the image is mounted.

  10. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    I was gonna note using Quicksilver. But I find it pretty freakin' easy to just drag the thing to my sidebar.

    I really hate having to open an installer these days.
  11. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    You can go to Apple's website and still download System 6 on disk images files. I did not get a Mac until System 6.0.4 when DiskCopy was at DiskCopy 4.2. Back then, disk images were intended to electronically transport copies of disks. DiskCopy created the image files and copied them to disks. You needed an INIT (later called Extension) to open a disk image as a mounted volume. This changed with the advent of Disk Copy (notice the space), a utility with a similar name, but much added functionality. Disk Copy could also create images from folders, mount disk image files as Macintosh volumes, and create .smi files or Self-Mounting Images. Disk Copy made the transition to MacOS X, but was later split and became part of Disk Utilities with the remainder as DiskImageMounter. Apple also dropped the .smi creation function.

    The takeaway message is that disk images have been used on the Mac for most of the Mac's history. They have nothing to do with the Unix underpinnings of MacOS X.
  12. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    You're far from being the first person to do this. While reading your post I was going to respond with "drag the Applications folder into your dock" but then you said you already did that.

    I also toss Documents in there.
  13. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002

    Well, I never claimed to be the first to do this...its just something I learned to do
  14. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Yeah, I kind of wonder why everybody doesn't add their Apps folder (and their home folder, for that matter) to the Dock. You get easy drag-and-drop installation, one-click access if you need it open to look for an app, or click-and-hold to get a nice popup of everything in it. Three features from one quick drag.

    Although I like how a lot of the newer DMG installers include a courtesy alias pointing to your Apps folder right on the DMG (usually with some instructions or just an arrow in the window background), so even the most technically un-inclined person should be able to figure out "Drag A to B to install" if they bother to read the instructions or just look at the pictures.

    zerolight went over the whole DMG theory, but didn't mention one pertinent fact: Why.

    Now that the MacOS has good .zip file support built in, you could just put the app in a ZIP archive and call it done. Some developers do exactly this.

    But with a DMG, you get three things: You can present an "install" window that looks exactly like what you want on a Mac, inside a "flat" file that can be easily transmitted over the internet. So if you want background pictures, multiple folders, readmes, or whatever, all can be presented exactly how you want it.
    Second, it's compressed (like a zip file), so it saves transfer time.
    Third, it is very easy to archive the .dmg files, in case you want to reinstall later or whatever. This I much prefer to a zip file, which (on the Mac--no built-in browser like XP) must be decompressed to see what's in it.

    You get all the features of distribution on a physical CD with the convienenece of a downloadable compresed file--nice.
  15. qtip919 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2002
    I guess I am looking for something a bit more elegant.

    In my opinion, this should be handled by ctrl-click

    If there was an option like "send to application folder" I would just do that...

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