Thumbs up for easy installs

After almost two years of heavy daily use, my poor little MacBook was getting a bit worn out and doing some crazy things. So about a month ago I reinstalled OS X. I backed up all my files and just wiped the whole computer.

My experience doing that with Windows and Linux computers has always been pleasant. It’s refreshing to start anew. It was not so with my Mac. I think it’s because using my MacBook was normally such a pleasant experience and I’d had things set up the way I liked them for so long that I didn’t even know some things weren’t just there. I couldn’t remember everything I’d installed, such as Gutenprint and Xcode developer tools, so I couldn’t understand what went wrong when certain things didn’t work.

Anyway, all that is a bit of a tangent to what I really wanted to say, which is “Yay, for easy application installing!” or perhaps “Kudos to you intelligent developers!”

These screenshots are all for free software and all you have to do is drag one icon to the other.




It must be a reasonably simple thing to do since so many applications do it, but occasionally there’s a program that makes a fancy background for their install window and makes it difficult for you to put the program anywhere. If it were just the normal Finder window, at least it would have the shorcuts on the side, but no— it’s fancy, but not fancy enough!


Not to pick on BibDesk. It’s a top program, just the most recent, nonless-friendly installer I’ve used (why do they assume the hard drive is where you want to put it?).


  1. Adam says

    Well…you’re likely putting those other programs on your hard drive, as well, right? Personally, I dislike the assumption that everyone copies programs to /Applications; I reserve that for Apple software and broken programs that require installing to a fixed location. Incidentally, this makes restoring from backups or the OS installer much easier, since most of my apps are on a separate volume. (Disclaimer: I created the BibDesk disk image and background).

  2. says

    Adam, yes the Applications folder is on the hard drive, but I used MacTex to install all this stuff (and then manually upgraded BibDesk), so my Tex related programs are in the Applications folder and then in another folder called Tex. So, I needed to navigate through three windows while dragging an icon.

    Obviously it’s not a huge deal, but it’s the small things in interface design that make a difference to the user.

    If you use your volumes differently, then that’s quite a different story and might go a long way to explaining why it doesn’t go with the flow, so to speak. I guess I can respect that not everyone puts programs in the Applications folder, although I would be surprised if most people don’t since it’s the default behaviour and the OS pretty much encourages you to do so right out of the box.

    I hope you weren’t too offended Adam, I’m really very grateful to everyone who makes these projects happen.

  3. Adam says

    No offense taken! In the case of MacTeX-installed GUI programs, you’d want a symlink pointing to /Applications/TeX from the dmg, right? That’s likely a common case, but not necessarily more common than /Applications or ~/Applications or /some/random/applications directory, since many of us don’t install the GUI part of MacTeX.

    In my opinion, the symlink-based solution just isn’t robust enough; an actual installer is actually more intuitive for many users, but I never wanted to hassle with creating an installer package. My old-time Mac user habit is to drag-and-drop software wherever I want :). Mac OS X software installation is fairly controversial among developers, though.

  4. says

    Oh yeah, I wouldn’t expect there to be a link right to the TeX folder. I think many people using TeX stuff are probably savvy enough to do things their own way.

    I agree that an installer is intuitive for some users, but I think that’s mainly because it’s how Windows has done things for ages. I actually don’t like package installers because I feel like they can install stuff all over the place and use up all my hard drive and I’ll never get rid of them (just like Windows apps). So I guess in that way dragging to where you want is the best option.

    I guess if there was a way to please everyone there could be an option to specify your own default application folders on your machine and then symlinks might automatically be created for you to quickly drag things were you want… As a non-Mac dev I have no idea how silly that is though. 😛