How to use the Mac App Store in Mac OS 10.6.6

How to use the Mac App Store
Mac Tip #469, 12 January 2011

The Mac App Store makes it easy to find and download software for your Mac, and to keep it updated. Reviews and ratings help you choose software, and any payments go through Apple. Here’s how it works.


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You must install Mac OS X 10.6.6

A new App Store... item appears in the Apple Menu.

A new App Store… item appears in the Apple Menu.

The App Store is a new feature only available with Mac OS X 10.6.6. If you’re already running Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) make sure you update to the very latest version — it’s free, but it may be a very big download.

Choose Software Update… from the Apple Menu and follow the instructions to install any available updates.

After you update, a new item appears in the Apple menu: App Store….

If you don’t have that item in the Apple menu then you don’t have the correct version of Mac OS X installed.

The App Store requires an Apple ID

If you’ve ever used MobileMe or .Mac, or have signed in to the iTunes Store then you already have an Apple ID.

If you’re not sure if you have an Apple ID, or have forgotten it this Apple ID Support page will help.

Any apps you buy through the Mac App Store will be charged to the account connected to your Apple ID.

Open the Mac App Store

Mac App Store home page.

Mac App Store home page.

Choose App Store… from the Apple menu, or double click the App icon in the Applications folder. The App Store opens.

The Home Page shows an overview of everything the Store has to offer: New & Noteworthy, What’s Hot, Staff Favourites, Top Grossing, Top Free and more, including links to manage your App Store account.

The Toolbar at the top of the App Store window links to Featured, Top Charts and Categories, as well as pages to show existing purchases and available updates.

In the Mac App Store and the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch everything you obtain is a purchase, even if it’s free and doesn’t cost you anything. You still buy free apps and updates, even though no money changes hands.

Browse the Store

See All in a category.

See All in a category.

To see everything that’s available pick a category and click the See All link in the heading. A new page opens listing everything in that category. Use the pop-up menu at the top of the page to sort by criteria such as name or release date.

Search the Store

Sort a page of Apps with the pop-up and search with the Search box above it.

Sort a page of Apps with the pop-up and search with the Search box above it.

Use the Search box at top right of the window to find software you’re interested in. For example, I typed in edit images and found 4 apps, including one I already use called Acorn.

Get more info about an App

To find out more about an App click its name in a listing. For example, TextWrangler is an excellent free app for writing and editing text.

Click the word TextWrangler to find out more about this App.

Click the word TextWrangler to find out more about this App.

Click its name. A new page opens up with full details about it.

Tip: Many items on each page of the App Store are links. Move your mouse over different things. If the cursor changes from an arrow to a hand then you can click for more information or to visit a relevant web page.

Buy an App

Copy a Link or Tell a Friend.

Copy a Link or Tell a Friend.

In the top left corner of a detail page is a badge that tells you the cost of the App, with a tiny arrow that lets you easily copy a link to that page or tell a friend about the App.

To buy an App (even a free one), click on the price (or the word Free). A sign in box appears, asking for your Apple ID and password. Enter your details and click the Sign In button.

Sign in to download apps.

Sign in to download apps.

Tell us in the Comments at the website how you’re getting on with the Mac App Store.

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  1. Geoff said:

    Hi Miraz, As usual, clear, logical, and informative writing. Thanks for the post.
    I think, like Virginia, that it’s a bit more to pay than is ‘necessary’ to move to OS 10.6. I’m a (or whatever the heck it says) luddite, but an iOS4.2-adopter, so my interest in the Mac App store is kind of academic. When a job pays enough I will stump up for the new Snow Leopard, & probably ‘buy’ free apps to try them out as I do with iPhone-ry.
    Cheers, & have a good read – very healthy!

  2. Virginia said:

    Great post, Miraz. I have to say I’m really disappointed that Mac users have to have 10.6 to install the App Store. Even though it would only be a few dollars for me to upgrade to 10.6, it seems like more than I can afford right now. Bleahhh.

Comments are closed.