How to List All Applications on Mac

MacOS applications are installed a little differently than Windows. Because they are almost always single .app It is much easier to move files around on your hard drive. Here’s how to find the ones you’ve lost.

From the application folder

This method is obvious – just open your applications folder. You can usually find this in the sidebar, at the top of your hard drive, or in your home folder (the one with your name on it). You can hit the “List” button on the top bar to see everything in an easy-to-read list.

However, this doesn’t list every single application on your drive. So if you have an app in your Downloads folder, it won’t show up here.

How to launch applications on your Mac

Better method: Smart Folders

macOS Smart Folder

Smart folders are wonderful. They’re like saved searches that you can pin to the Finder’s sidebar. Here we are looking for all applications.

Create a new Smart Folder in any Finder window by selecting File> New Smart Folder from the top menu bar.

macOS new smart folder

This will open what looks like a search window. You can add a new rule by clicking the + button next to “Save”. A drop-down list will appear for you to select the rule that you want the Smart Folder to look for. The default option searches for file names.

macOS Smart Folder Options

But you should change “Name” to “Type” and specify “Application”.

You will see that the folder quickly fills up with applications. If you’d like to save this Smart Folder, click Save in the upper right corner. Enter a name and choose a location.

Save macOS Smart folder

The default location is a Saved Searches folder, but you can save it anywhere. Either way, it’s added to the sidebar for easy access.

Using system information

MacOS System Information Applications tab

The System Information app has a tab to view all of them .app File installed on your system. Open the app by holding the Option key and clicking the Apple logo; The first element is system information.

Scroll down to Software> Applications and give a minute to browse your hard drive and fill the list. This list contains all .app File, even intrinsic and internal, so change them at your own risk.

Command line options

macOS lists all applications on the command line

If, for technical reasons, you want an easily modifiable list of app file paths, you can browse your drive with a terminal command. We use find and use the -iname Flag to search files by name. The syntax to search for .app Extensions is:

sudo find / -iname *.app

Open the Terminal app by clicking it in the Dock, paste the above command and hit Enter. It takes a while to search and returns an extremely long list that contains many internal and system applications. We recommend directing the output to a file.

sudo find / -iname *.app > filename

This will search the root directory and contain everything on your hard drive. You will notice many repeating directories of apps within apps, such as: B. Xcode’s internal applications. You can get rid of these results with sed and a bit of regex assign and remove .app Files within .app Files:

sed -i '/.app.*.app/d' filename

This will remove any entry that matches the pattern from the list of apps you’ve created. This changes the file directly. So be careful not to run them on anything else.

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