I am new to OS X and am thinking of purchasing an app from the app store (in this case it's SkySafari 4 Pro). If I purchase this app, or any app, will I be able to use it on, say, my iPad? If the answer depends on the app, how do I find out if this is the case?

I had a look at the Macbook App Store FAQ page, which says:

Mac App Store can only be used on a Mac

This seems to imply that the answer is no, but even so I'm somewhat confused about the relationship between the different App stores, and how my decision to purchase an app on device X affects my rights to then download it on device Y (where X might be a macbook and Y might be an iPad or vice-versa).

  • Thank you for the 'correct' vote. I added some extra info, but the Ask Different system won't notify you of that - this comment will ;) [& I just noticed you have 108 rep, so you already know how SE notifies… sorry]
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


It's not a question of licensing, it's that the architecture of the Mac & an iDevice are totally different.

The Mac runs on an Intel processor, OS X is based on a unix kernel.

iDevices run on an ARM processor, iOS is [actually idk, but proprietary]
(All iDevices run on the same 'family' of processors, so that is why if you purchase an iApp, you can use it on any iDevice you own.)

Apps for one simply cannot run on the other.

Some apps are made in 2 or more versions, for Mac, iPhone, iPad, even Windows or Android etc, each available from their respective Store.

The App Store 'app' on the Mac is only for Mac Apps. iApps can be purchased either from the App Store on the iDevice, or through iTunes on a Mac/PC.

The licensing model for Apple is that the Apple ID used to purchase an app from the App Store is allowed to use it on any device they own using that Apple ID [1] [so long as it will physically run, as explained above]
This makes moving from machine to machine easy, but not from ID to ID.
It's pretty much the opposite of the Microsoft model, where an app, or even the OS itself is tied to one machine, using a serial number etc.

[1]with some exceptions which you can see noted in the Purchases tab in the App Store app.
An example…

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Interestingly, the only apps I have that are not shareable are all Freeware anyway, so I could simply re-"purchase" if I needed them on another machine.

Family Sharing extends that licensing model to other members of your family, so all can access the same songs, albums, movies, TV shows, books, and apps on both Mac and iDevices, if they wish, from a single 'purchase'.

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