How to download and keep Mac App Store installers

15 March 2016, 03:00


The Mac App Store is either superb invention or a missed opportunity, depending on your perspective. But it undoubtedly has one flaw: You can’t keep a copy of the installers for the apps you buy or download. Apple expects you to be connected to the Internet if you need to reinstall in future – and that’s not always guaranteed.

Downloading and keeping the installation packages offers more than simply being able to reinstall apps if you’re offline. For example, you can keep older versions of apps so that you can reinstall them if a newer version proves buggy, or simply doesn’t work how you want it to.

Downloading the tool we need
To download and keep the installer packages from the Mac App Store we’re going to use a script created by developer maxschlapfer called – appropriately enough – AppStore Extractor Script. Here are the steps needed to download it, which need only be done once:

  1. Open the Terminal window, which you’ll find in the Utilities folder of the Applications list within Finder.
  2. Copy and paste the following command, which will download the script and make it ready for use – copy and paste the command as a single line, even though it might be split over two or more lines in your browser window:
    curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/maxschlapfer/MacAdminHelpers/master/AppStoreExtract/AppStoreExtract.sh > AppStoreExtract.sh;chmod u+x AppStoreExtract.sh

Using AppStoreExtract
Whenever you want to download and save application packages in future, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Terminal window again and start the AppStoreExtract script by typing the following:
    ./AppStoreExtract.sh
  2. Leave the script running in the background, as directed, and open the Mac App Store. Navigate to the app you want, then click the buy/download it. Tip: To get a copy of an app you already have, uninstall it and then click the Get button to download it afresh. Tip #2: You can download several apps at once here, and the script will save each to your hard disk separately.
  3. Once the Mac App Store has finished downloading and installing the app (you can usually tell because the Launchpad icon will bounce in the Dock), don’t close the Mac App Store window. Instead, return to the Terminal window and hit any letter or number key.
  4. When asked if you want to finalize the package, type Y and then hit Enter. This simply puts the installer package into a DMG file and removes a detritus file.
  5. Once the script has finished, you’ll find the package(s) at /Users/Shared/AppStore_Packages – open a Finder window, tap Shift+Cmd+G, and then paste in /Users/Shared/AppStore_Packages. Then click Go.

This script strips out the App Store receipt system, which means you can subsequently install the app on other Macs that you aren’t signed in to. Obviously, you should only do this provided you have the correct license for the app. The Mac App Store license agreement lets you install the software on every Mac that you personally own and use.


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