One example is CheatSheet. I searched it on the AppStore but couldn't find it.

  • In some cases applications do things they can't do if the application is distributed through in the app store, because of sandboxing. I don't know if this is the reason why CheatSheet is not in the app store, but there are many applications out there that go even further than that and require you to disable system integrity protection (SIP). CheatSheet used to be in the app store around 2012.
    – Joonas
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 9:13
  • 2
    @Joonas Applications shouldn't require disabling SIP normally, I would be very reluctant to install any application which does...
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 9:42
  • @nohillside, on the surface level I agree... in a perfect world I agree, but just the statement "applications shouldn't require disabling sip normally" is something I can't fully get behind. It makes it sound like it's never needed and apps that ask you to do that are nefarious, which is not true. Applications "normally" don't need that, but sometimes there's no way around it and they do. Two examples that come to mind are: TotalFinder and TotalSpaces — (note the red underlined link under the download button).
    – Joonas
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 9:50
  • 4
    @Joonas I wouldn't go so far as "nefarious", but some applications I've run into in the past asked to disable SIP simply because the developers didn't fully upgrade their code. Whether the functionality provided by these applications is worth the increased risk is something each user has to decide for themselves.
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 10:01
  • @nohillside, true. — Bartender did this at first and later on got around it and now you don't need to disable SIP to use it. And in that vein, there are some equivalent stand-alone apps that don't modify native apps but replace them. Like if you need some things that TotalFinder offers but don't want to disable SIP, you can look at some of the Finder Replacements, like Path Finder. Another application that comes to mind is cDockuBar etc...
    – Joonas
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 10:21

3 Answers 3


There are a number of reasons developers may not want to go through the Mac App Store:

  • Apple Developer account is required with paid annual subscription of $99
  • Apple review process may block certain features or APIs
  • Apple determines that the app does not follow other guidelines (ui, content, etc)
  • Apple requires some features to be implemented or will not pass review (example, 64bit compatibility)
  • Apps on the App Store run in Sandbox, and do not have access to other parts of the system except through Public APIs
  • Pricing... Apple takes 30% of the purchase price
  • Users are insulated from the developer... its like buying an electronic widget from a big box store but never turning in the warranty... the developer has no idea who is using their product.
  • Time limited demos are not allowed (developers get around this by doing In-App Purchases for "Pro" features)
  • They (the developer) has malicious intent (rare, but can happen... more often with free software though)

But there are also a number advantages for developers too:

  • A great place to get exposure for your App
  • Don't need to deal with purchases or refunds
  • Support is limited to technical details and feature requests only
  • Don't need to build in copy protection (serial numbers, activation, etc) because authorization is handled by the Mac App Store
  • App is downloaded from Apples network, so don't need to worry about hosting bandwidth (an issue for popular software)
  • 2
    Why is just that one item bolded? Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 23:55
  • 1
    Yes, I know how marketing works, but why did you highlight it above all those other important considerations? It kind of reads like an advertisement for the store! (I know it wasn't intended that way) Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 0:32
  • 3
    @PhilM Although I agree with your assessment about developers undervaluing proper marketing, I think it's a stretch to say the mac app store provides any marketing value at all, for anyone who isn't already a top tier, established software company. You just get buried in all the other crap
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 1:44
  • 2
    One addition: it is generally believed — whether true or not I cannot say — that many free-software licenses, including the GPL, are incompatible with the app store. Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 12:35
  • 1
    Apple also takes 30% of in-app purchase revenue, and doesn't allow you to redirect users to external purchase methods.
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 15:45

Business Reasons

On macOS, applications can be sold outside of Apple's Mac App Store.

Many developers choose to sell their software through Apple's store in order to access the audience Apple provide.

However, there are numerous business reasons a developer might choose to avoid the Apple operated stores. These include control over pricing, product, and direct customer access:

If you only sell your software in an app store and the store controls the contract, market place, and customer relationship, what exactly is your business built upon? You have one customer; the store. You are left at the whim of that store's policies. Are you really building your own business? Or are you building someone else's?

It is possible to sell Mac software both through Apple's Mac App Store and directly to customers outside the store.

On iOS, apps must be sold through Apple's App Store.

  • Apple's App Store is based on the model of retail box stores. It is the retail customer, even if they buy your manufactured product. The store displays the product and no previous knowledge about the manufacturer is required. Now what is happening is that the trend is going toward direct to consumer in every space except for the digital media space (software, music, video, etc).
    – Phil M
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 16:06
  • 2
    @PhilM my experience disagrees with yours but answers and comments on Ask Different are not the place for discussions. Have you considered writing a blog post on the subject? Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 16:11

Some developers don't like the App Store, and there's a wealth of reason why - Apple take too much money, Apple don't police the Store and stop the perpetual flood of cheap copies of decent apps, they don't like the restrictions placed on App Store stuff ...

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