Installing Applications for a specific user

Have you ever needed to test an Application but didn’t want to fully install it on your Mac? Or perhaps you want to test an updated version of an Application without having to update/replace the previous version in /Applications on your mac’s hard drive?

A useful trick which has been around for a while but not many mac users seem to know about it, is the ability to create an Applications folder in your User Accounts’ Home folder and install into this folder the Application you want to try.

In other words, Applications can be installed for ALL users or just for a specific user.

The default on a Mac of course is to install new and updated Applications for ALL users, which installs the Application into the root level Applications folder = /Applications.

However, you can install an Application just for a specific user by creating a folder titled ‘Applications’ (must have a capital ‘A’) into a User’s Home folder.
For example, if I wanted to have my own Applications folder, which only my user account can use, I would create the following folder = /Users/russell/Applications.

From now on, whenever I double click on any document, this ‘per-user Applications folder’ will be checked first to see if it has an Application that can open the document I’m trying to open, BEFORE the system checks the default ‘/Applications’ folder.

Plus, I can safely use Applications stored in my own Applications folder knowing that other users on my machine will not be able to use this version of the Application:

Installing Applications for a specific user

This feature has been tested using OS X v10.8.2 which was the latest Mac OS release at the time of writing and also using the latest Internal and external Apple keyboards.

3 Replies to "Installing Applications for a specific user"

  • innermotion

    I thought the ~/Applications folder defaults to 755 permissions which means all Apps inside will be readable and executable by any user anyway. You would manually have to change the folder permissions to say 700 to lock other users out of using these apps.

  • Thanks for your reply innermotion, i wasnt trying to get that technical! 😉

    The main point i wanted to get across was that when your user that has the ~/Applications folder double clicks on a document, this Applications folder is prioritised first to load any applications.

    Obviously, like with any file or folder you create, you would need to check the permission to ensure security requirements are met.

  • We use this a lot in school builds to hold “sensitive” applications. Making sure (as innermotion says) to edit the permissions so that other users can’t access the folder.

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