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Many programs for OS X simply ask to drop the executable into the Applications directory. This obviously means that copying the executable onto another machine is possible without problems.

What about applications that go through an installer (for example iWork) - do these do something extra? Can I simply copy the Pages executable onto another machine and have it run?

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I know that this did not work for Age of Empires 3 when I moved to a new Mac. – gentmatt Mar 30 '12 at 6:32
up vote 3 down vote accepted


If the application requires an installer, it needs to be installed on each machine. This includes pre-MAS (Mac App Store) iWorks and Microsoft Office 2011 for example.

Only applications that were not downloaded from the MAS and explicitly specify installation by copying the executable can be copied between machines.

Applications purchased through MAS can be copied between machines as long as the user logging into MAS on the target machine is the same user that originally purchased the application.

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I've hardly used the Mac App Store. Do you mean that even if I copy the executable, it just won't run on another machine unless I actually log-in to the App Store? – Hippo Mar 30 '12 at 7:53
@Hippo Apps that you purchase from the Mac App Store are registered to you. They can only be updated with your MAS account, by you logging into the MAS with your Apple ID. You may copy the apps that you purchase from the MAS to any computer that you own or have in your control, such as a Mac from an employer or educational institution. On first launch after copying, the app may require you to re-enter your Apple ID credentials. You may not copy apps to the Macs of friends, else you are violating the EULA and providing them with pirated software which they cannot update without your assistance. – Mathias Bynens Mar 30 '12 at 8:20
@Hippo Mathias basically answered the question, but in short Yes, you have to log into MAS on the other machine to give it permission to run and validate it's license. – BinaryMisfit Mar 30 '12 at 8:58

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