Until now, you had to go looking. Online articles often provide software reviews (like the Basics4Mac Cool Tools.) There are software directory websites like MacUpdate and of course the software company's website itself. Pulling it all into one place, the Mac App Store let you browse applications the same way you browse for music in iTunes.
To get the Mac App Store, go to Software Update on the Apple Menu and install Mac OS X 10.6.6 (Yes, Snow Leopard is required to access the Mac App Store,)
Once 10.6.6 is installed and rebooted, there is a new icon on the left of your Dock for the App Store. If you prefer a minimal Dock or your Dock has so many icons that you already can't find anything, you can drag the App Store icon off the Dock. You can always get to the App Store from the Apple Menu on the Menu Bar.
Here are some of the advantages the App Store offers:
- The App Store uses the same Apple ID as iTunes and the iDevices App Store so you already have an account set up. Any iTunes credit you have is usable in the Mac App Store as well.
- Apple has vetted all the apps so you can be sure that they are safe and won't harm your Mac or do nefarious things like sharing your personal info without you knowing it.
- Installation and updates are as simple as could be. You simply click Buy in the App Store and the app is downloaded and placed on your Dock. When there are updates to your apps, a number will appear on the App Store icon on the Dock. Until now, installing applications, while not difficult, has taken a bit of time and knowledge.
- Once you buy an app, you can download it on to all of your Macs (as long as they all share the same Apple ID.) Think of it as getting the "family pack" for free.
- There is no messing with license codes or serial numbers. Apple's copy protection is invisible behind the scenes.
- You can buy the individual iLife and iWorks apps in the Mac App Store. If you thought that $50 was too much to buy iLife '11 when all you use is iPhoto, now you can buy iPhoto '11, iMovie '11 and Garage Band '11 for $15 each. Same with iWork. Rather than pay $80 for the entire suite when all your want is Pages, Pages, Numbers and Keynote are available for $20 each. BONUS HOT TIP: iWorks hasn't been updated since '09 and there are constant rumors of iWorks '11 just around the corner. If you are thinking of buying the iWorks apps, it might make sense to wait a month or so to see if iWorks '11 appears.
- Aperture (iPhoto's big brother) is available in the App Store for only $80. That is far less than half of the regular $200 price! Similar to iPhoto in many ways, Aperture has stronger organizational and editing tools and is worth considering if you feel like you (or your Library) are outgrowing iPhoto.
For more detailed information about the Mac App Store, check out Macworld.com's detailed FAQ.
And yes, it appear that the word "application" is now officially been shortened to "app."