Where to Find and Download Mac OS X Software

Scenario/Problem: After receiving your brand new Mac, you quickly discover that all you have are the applications Apple has installed by default. While it’s great to have apps such as Safari, iChat, and the iLife apps (iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iWeb, and GarageBand), where can you go to find other software for your Mac?
Solution: Beyond purchasing software at your local Apple Store, there are a number of great online resources from which you can download and install software on your Mac.

Using Mac App Store

The easiest way to get software is to use Apple’s App Store. This application comes with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and is available to Snow Leopard users who update to at least 10.6.6. Similar to the iOS App Store in iTunes, there are thousands upon thousands of commercial and free applications you can download. Note, however, that Apple does not permit the sale of any application, utility, plug-in, extension, or other enhancement that installs part of itself in the System or main Library folders. Developers who publish software under many versions of open source licenses cannot submit their applications to the App Store, either. This means that popular applications such as OpenOffice, and popular Internet plugins such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight are not available. Luckily, there are several websites dedicated to distributing freeware, shareware, and commercial software for Mac OS X users.

Mac OS X Software Websites

  1. MacUpdate: Mac Update is an independent software site that has a huge collection of Mac OS X applications and utilities. Each application’s page provides links to the developer’s website, a download link, user reviews and star ratings, and popular software alternatives.
  2. AlternativeTo: This is a newer site that suggests free or lower-cost alternatives to popular commercial software. It is driven by user submissions and has an extensive Mac software section.
  3. CNET: CNET is very similar to Mac Update but has a slightly larger database of applications, as the site still maintains links to older Mac OS 9 software.

While these three sites are some of the largest ones on the Internet, there are dozens of other sites, too. Outside of Apple’s retail stores, it can be difficult to find Mac software locally. Your best bet is to check Apple’s online database of local resellers. Otherwise, your best selection of commercial software comes from online vendors like Amazon, MacMall, and MacConnection.