Misconception

There is a common misconception about the Mac and application installation that I’ve heard countless times. Many people know that to install an app on a Mac, you drag it’s icon on your hard drive and that’s all. There are some exception (these apps use an installer), but for most of them it’s really that simple. Now, here is what I just read from somewhere on this page:

In each case all I had to do was download the installer from for website, and without any user intervention the file extracted itself and I was presented with a finder window containing the program icon. It told me to drag and drop the icon to the applications folder, and I did so. It copied all the files to the right places and that was that. UNIX has never been so easy!

He his technically correct, but somewhat misleading. All the files are copied to the right places ” but there is one place: the place he dragged the application to. There is nothing like an hidden installer going on under the hood placing files at obscure places in the system. This is a plain and simple file copy. This is because most applications on the Mac can work without any installation at all, the application file just have to be available on a storage media where you can double-click on on it’s icon: this can be a USB key, an iPod, a CD…

Without having any evidence, I believe this myth came from some Windows users who couldn’t even imagine that a complex application can be copied from one disk to the other and continue to work, and thus assumed that the install process was just hidden in order to make the Mac more user friendly. That’s simply not true. When I say that there is not hidden installer, there is really no installer.


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