Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Many apps are installed by the "drag it into the Applications folder". Is it true that usually, if you copy that app (which is a .app folder`) onto another Mac that you have that has the same OS X version or higher version, then the App should work too?

(unless it is not supporting Rosetta apps due to backward compatibility).

Some apps are installed by running a program, and go through the "Where do you want to install to", and "Agree with Terms?", etc, etc, and probably those apps can't be properly installed by just copying the .app folder to another Mac?

(I need to do this because VLC 2.0.3 can't play some format of rmvb files, and I need to install 2.0.1 to another Mac and the downloaded file is missing, only the folder is in the Applications folder.)

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Apps that are installed through disk images that simply ask you to drag the app file into your Applications folder usually create all of the files it needs to run (i.e. preferences, miscellaneous plists, cache files, etc.) on your first run. So, yes, these kinds of applications can be copied to other Macs without a problem (unless, of course, that application requires a license and the license is asked for on first run and stored in a plist).

Apps that use (.pkg files, usually) are different in that they have a bundle of files that they need to install in order to run (like Office for Mac). Note that they, too, can create plists and preferences on first run, also. You can see what .pkg files install by opening their Package Contents. So, you are right, usually the apps that use .pkg files can't be run on their .app alone (you can't just copy to another Mac and expect it to work; certain frameworks need to be installed so that it can work).

In the specific case of your VLC download, which does not use a .pkg file should run just fine when copied.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.