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How to Use the Mac App Store

written by: Donny Yankellow•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 5/19/2011

The Mac App Store is open and full of great software for your computer. Want to know how to use the App Store? This article will walk you through it.

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    The Mac App Store is Open

    As of January 6, 2011 the Mac App Store is open for business. The Mac App Store is another way to buy and install apps for your Mac. If you are familiar with the iTunes Music Store and the App Store for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch; using the Mac App Store will be very familiar to you. If you are not accustomed to those stores, it will be something new. New or old, this article will guide you through getting started in the store and how to buy from the Mac App Store so you can start using it.

    One great reason to set up and use the App Store is to save money. One of the things you will notice in the App store is that titles from Apple's iWork and iLife packages are available as individual downloads instead of the retail bundle. This means if you only want one of the titles you only pay for the one you want. Also, other titles like Aperture 3 are a lot cheaper in the App Store (currently $80). If you are looking to buy some new software for your Mac, you definitely want to check out the App Store.

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    How to Get Started in the Mac App Store

    The first thing you need to do in order to run the App Store is download it. If you have not done so already, you want to run Software Update from the Apple Menu on your computer. Assuming your are running 10.6 (a requirement for the store), you will be presented with 10.6.6 for downloading. This update will include the App Store. Once the update is complete the App Store will be in your dock and Applications folder. You can run it from either place.

    Screen shot 2011-01-06 at 11.56.05 AM 

    You also need an Apple ID to use the App Store. If you have an iTunes account or have bought from the Apple Online Store you have an Apple ID and you want to use that login in the Mac App Store. If you don't, you can make one through the store.To do so click the "Account" link on the top right of the store. This will present you with a login screen. If you have an ID this is where you use it, if you don't click the option to create an ID and you will be walked through the steps to create one (a credit card is required).

    Once your ID is set up you can start shopping!

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    Shopping in the Mac App Store

    As I said earlier, if you are familiar with the App Store for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch shopping in the Mac App Store will be familiar territory. When you open the App Store by clicking the icon in the dock (double click from Applications folder) you are presented with the home screen. On this screen are featured apps, which will periodically change. If you see something you like or are interested in, you click the icon or name and you will be presented with the page that shows you screen shots and a description of the program.

    If the home screen does not show what you are looking for, you can browse the sections at the top of the window. These include top app lists and categories with apps in them. Both have free and paid apps. You can also just type a topic into the search bar and search for what you are looking for.

    Screen shot 2011-01-06 at 12.31.35 PM 

    If you want to purchase the app, you click the price (which might even be free) and you will be prompted to enter your password for your Apple ID. If you have not closed the App Store since your last purchase, the password will be stored and you won't have to enter it again. You can also click the price from any screen that shows the icon and price. You don't have to go to the app specific screen.

    Once purchased the program will download and install on its own.

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    Running Your Apps

    After installing the apps the App Store will place an icon in the dock and the program itself will be placed in your Applications folder. If your dock starts getting to full, or you don't want the item from in your dock, you can click and drag it off your dock. To run just click the icon in the dock or double click the icon in the Applications folder.

    If you decide you don't want to keep a program anymore just drag it to the trash. If you decide you want to reinstall it later go to the "Purchases" tab in the App Store. All of your purchases will be listed. Anything deleted will have an "Install" button next to it for redownloading and installing.

    Another great feature of the app store is that it will update your purchases for you. Just like the App Store for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch the App store will detect updates for your purchased software. You then go to the "Updates" tab in the store and install from there.

    Keep in mind that the App Store is not the only place to purchase software for your Mac, but it does make the process a lot easier. It is also a great place to find software for your Mac that you may have never known existed. It will be interesting to see if it succeeds as well as the iTunes App Store.