I was just wondering if there is a way to make a mac app without software, by making text files with certain file extensions? Is this possible? Thanks.

closed as off-topic by Allan, Mark, bmike Jul 9 '18 at 13:28

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    Welcome to Ask Different. Can you clarify what you mean by 'mac app'? As @jbis mentioned in the Answer, 'mac app' can be loosely defined. – fsb Jul 9 '18 at 12:26
  • I'm going to put this on hold. Software development isn't the purpose of this site, however if some edits are made to the post to clarify and narrow down something that's on topic like automation, scripting and an objective definition of what a "mac app" consists of and what "without software" means. I can't think of anything that runs on mac without software since the OS is software. At face value, this question is "nope" but I'm guessing there's more to the "ask" than what the words say in the initial version of this question. – bmike Jul 9 '18 at 13:31

You sure can, but by "without software" I assume you mean "without application development software, like XCode". The text files will need to be written to disk using software.

(There's always punch cards, but no Mac has ever had a punch card reader)

Design your application and write it in x86_64 assembler language. Get the Intel opcode reference and translate all the instructions into hexadecimal. Type in the numbers, save, change the flag to executable and add the GUI support files if appropriate. Those are all plain text anyway.

You will very quickly realize that using XCode is much, much easier. And it's free.

And before anyone else says "it's impossible to write code like that", Steve Wozniak wrote the original integer BASIC operating system for the Apple ][ exactly that way. How do I know? Wrote a letter to Apple way back in the 1980s asking for a copy of the source code and that's what they said. The full source of the floating-point version was in the back of one of the manuals that came with the computer, so it's not like they didn't want to share.

  • Ooooooo. Can we see the letter? (If you still have). Prob worth a lot. P.S. That is actually crazy. Like seriously. – JBis Jul 9 '18 at 12:56
  • gizmodo.com/… – JBis Jul 9 '18 at 13:07
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    Sadly did not keep a copy. Nobody thought about that in the 80's. Woz was not the kind of person to let the absence of a compiler/assembler slow him down, and it was only 16kb. "Can't" is apparently not in his vocabulary. – david Jul 9 '18 at 13:21
  • Nor is "won't", "thats too difficult", or "that will take too much time" – JBis Jul 9 '18 at 13:24

I mean you can make an make scripts which would technically be considered an Application (AppleScript-.scrpt, Bash-.sh, etc). But if you want to make any real application your going to want Xcode or some other software to allow you to design and program an Application.


You can technically write a program without any advanced software, for instance with a text editor. Create an empty .txt file and write your code in it then rename it with the correct extension (.c, .h, .swift or whatever).

You'll need at least a compiler to build your program and make it an executable file.

Note that this approach is not recommended as it would be very slow and unproductive since the purpose of such software is to improve the coding experience by providing helpful tools such as a debugger, an interface builder, auto-completion and an access to many libraries and far more.

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