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This chapter is from the book

Task: Downloading and Installing Software

Although there's no single installation technique for all software that's available for the Mac OS X, you'll see in this hour that there are two common methods. Obviously, you should read the documentation that comes with your software if you want to be certain of the results, but for those who are anxious to double-click, this section offers a basic description of what to expect.


If you would rather purchase your software from a mail-order or in-store vendor, just make sure to read the product information to ensure compatibility with Mac OS X, or with Mac OS 9 if you need to run the application in Classic mode, as discussed in Appendix B, "Running Classic Applications." The installation process for disc images (explained later in the hour) still applies.

After you locate a piece of software you want to try, you're ready to begin:

  1. On the software download page, determine which version your system requires and click that link. Be sure to choose a version that's made for Mac OS X.

  2. If you're using Internet Explorer, your system begins downloading your selection, and a Download Manager window, similar to that shown in Figure 4.1, appears on your screen.

  3. Figure 4.1 You can monitor the status of an item as it downloads.

  4. When the download is finished, several icons appear on your desktop, similar to Figure 4.2. The icon with the extension .gz represents a special file that has been encoded for easy storage and download. We'll talk more about this in the "Opening Compressed Files with StuffIt Expander" section of this hour. Another common type of download file ends with a .sit extension and contains the same files, but in an unencoded and compressed form.

  5. The final installation step could differ, depending on the application you're working with. Here are the three major variations:

  6. If a folder icon appears on your desktop, you must open it to reach the application file. The folder also usually contains a ReadMe file that explains what to do next. This kind of install exists only for very small programs.

    If a file icon with the extension .pkg or .mpkg appears, double-clicking will start the Apple Installer, which provides a simple step-by-step guide to installation.

    Finally, if a disk image icon appears, as with the Chimera disk icon shown second from the bottom in Figure 4.2, double-clicking it mounts the disk, which you can then double click to open a Finder window that contains instructions. Disk images have the .dmg file extension.

    For example, when installing the Chimera Web browser, opening the disk icon results in the screen shown in 4.3, which contains an icon for you to drag to the Applications folder on your hard drive.

Figure 4.2 When you download software, several new icons appear on the desktop.

Figure 4.3 To install Chimera, simply drag the image to a folder in a Finder window.

When you've placed the file or folder where you want it, your application is ready for use. You can drag all the files that appeared on your desktop during download and installation to the Trash.

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