it’s an upgrade! no, it’s a drive! argh

OK, so I managed to survive installing apps on OSX in the first place. It’s a while since I’ve used the MBP so a stack of apps need an update. No problem, except none of them have auto updates.

Fast forward a few minutes and I’ve got DMG files and stupid psuedo-drives mounted all over the desktop. I think all has gone well until I try to get rid of the DMGs and psuedo-drives and it starts freaking out.

MBP: “You’re using that!”
Me: “No I’m not, that’s the installer, we’re done with that.”
MBP: “No no no no no you’re using that!”
Me: “I forgot the secret handshake again, didn’t I…”

It turns out that you have to manually quit the app before you run the upgrade, otherwise everything gets tied up in knots. Instead of doing something obvious, like, say reminding the user to quit the app, OSX merrily goes ahead and…. well I’m not sure. I can only assume it runs the app from the mounted DMG instead of installing it. That would explain why I couldn’t delete the DMG later on.

I don’t quite know how I did it, but I ended up with a situation where I’d deleted an app’s DMG file and had an icon in the dock… but when I clicked that icon, the mounted DMG would reappear (where the hell from?).

I ask my friendly machead for advice…

what you’re supposed to do

This is how you are supposed to upgrade an app:

  1. Manually quit the app
    1. OSX won’t remind you if you forget
  2. Double click the installer/DMG
  3. Find the mounted DMG (which looks like a drive) and open it
  4. Open Finder and navigate to /Applications
  5. Drag the app icon from the mounted DMG into /Applications
    1. Some apps will have a copy of the Applications icon right next to the app icon
    2. Don’t drag it anywhere else, or you’re fucked
  6. Say yes when it asks to overwrite older version of the app
  7. Unmount the DMG/eject the pseudo drive
  8. Drag the DMG into the trash

Compare that process with the Windows equivalent:

  1. Double-click the installer file
  2. If the app is running, Windows will remind you to close it
  3. Follow the prompts, which may include an overwrite confirmation and will finish with “Finish” or “Quit”.
  4. Delete the installer file

Yeah, I prefer the Windows version in terms of simplicity. OSX is so bloody mouse/drag-and-drop-oriented; and I find it irritating to have to stop what I’m doing and go find the one place I’m meant to be sticking apps. Shouldn’t OSX be able to guess I want it installed in the fucking Apps folder?

Anyway, now I know how I’m supposed to do it. I have to point out that the average Windows app installer has better error correction:

Windows: “Oi, idiot, that app is still running. You have to close it before we update it.”


OSX: “Yeah sure, whatever, that’ll cause problems but I won’t tell you, you should just know. What, you didn’t mean to run that app out of the DMG all the time? Too bad, chump.”

Anyway, I’ve learned another quirk. I move on.


6 Responses to it’s an upgrade! no, it’s a drive! argh

  1. devians says:

    apps are not like windows, where you have a labrynth of files to refer to and a shortcut on your desktop. most of them are self contained packages. dmg files are just the standard method of distribution, like zip files are for windows computers. when you open the dmg file, the app is there. no setup required, nothing. if you want to ‘install’ it, you can put it with the rest of your apps. if not, just run it from the dmg, and close the lot when you’re done.

    you strike me heavily as someone trying to treat their mac like its windows, and then complaining when its not ;)

  2. @devians: I can see the potential advantage to being able to run it out of the DMG, but when you want to install it why not just have an “install” button? You can’t drop the damn thing anywhere else except the Apps folder, so it’s make-work. To make things worse, there’s additional confusion since some apps pop up a window with an Apps folder icon next to the “install” icon – which *sometimes* works as a shortcut and other times does nothing.

    “you strike me heavily as someone trying to treat their mac like its windows, and then complaining when its not ;)”

    Macheads regularly bitch when Windows doesn’t act like OSX so it’s fair play for me to draw on my experience when trying to operate the machine :) OSX is not intuitive, is my point. Neither is Windows. They’re both unintuitive and you simply learn them by rote, until familiarity makes you think it’s “intuitive”.

    Neither system is perfect – that’s a point most mac zealots can’t cope with :) Everyone wants to prove supremacy…

  3. devians says:

    ive never run into an .app that required its home to be ~/Applications. you can put them on your desktop for all they care. the shortcut to the apps folder is just a nicety that some developers put in their dmg files for convenience, not really an osx shortcoming whether they’re there or not.

  4. Greenie says:

    You can put Mac applications anywhere you like. No installer means no crap to clean up if you decide you don’t like the application any more. You just throw the application in the bin. I often just run things from the DMG if I don’t use them regularly. I can even run applications from a mounted network volume. Try doing that with Windows. If my computer dies, I just take the hard disk out and put it in another Mac. No need to re-install applications. I just double-click them and they are ready to go.

    Windows gets slower and slower the more applications you install. Many applications load memu bar icons and memory-resident stuff that you really don’t need or want, and some can’t be turned off (the only option is to uninstall the app) After a while the registry gets so bloated and full of preference files and stuff it slows to a crawl. This can be only after 50 applications are installed! On my Mac, I currently have 323 applications in my main Applications folder, and many more scattered around my other hard drives, all in the same folders as the type of operation they are required for (you literally can store applications ANYWHERE) – I just did a search for files of type Applications – it lists 786 applications. That doesn’t count the ones inside DMG files.

    One thing I do sometimes is create a disk image with the application and any associated files and folders for projects I’m working on. Then if I move off-site I can just copy the entire DMG to a flash drive and run the project from there. No need to install any applications on somebody else’s computer, and everything is intact, identical to how I have it on my computer.

  5. You can put Windows applications anywhere you like, too. You can uninstall them any time you like, too. It’s not nearly as hard as you make out – OSX just has a different interface.

    The point of the post was that OSX does not adquately explain what’s going on. It’s not “intuitive”, it’s confusing as hell. New users just have to learn that bit of Mac weirdness.

    “Windows gets slower and slower the more applications you install.”

    That’s just a slight generalisation, eh? :) Yes, Windows will get slower if you install a bunch of stuff that stays memory-resident. Same thing happens on a Mac – I’ve seen plenty of crufty old Macs which were slow as hell. Doesn’t matter which OS you’re running, you still have to be careful what you install.

    You are right that some apps just have to be uninstalled, of course – or reconfigured after every update. Some you are stuck with – eg. iTunes if you own an iPod (the third party software doesn’t really work any better). iTunes and Quicktime is a prime offender in the memory-resident, can’t-get-rid-of-it stakes. Thanks a bunch, Apple ;)

    Some of those DMG hacks sound pretty neat though – I’ll give some of them a try.

  6. […] is consistent with the problems I had installing things in the wrong place though. Mac software often seems happy to let you go ahead and fuck up, blissfully unaware that […]

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