Quickly Download Or Install Common Apps Without Going To The Website

While helping friends and family with their computers, I often need to download an app they don’t have or update it to the latest version–something I don’t really want to spend my time doing.  This is definitely a first-world annoyance for me, but I always have fun making the computer do my laborious tasks for me, which frees up more time to do the things I enjoy.

The first thing I do is to make sure autopkg is installed on all my families computers.  This is the utility that will let me automate downloading, installing, and updating apps.  For example, if my friend couldn’t play a certain type of video, the first thing I would do is to have them install VLC, because it plays almost anything.

The Slow, Manual Method

If I were to do this manually, I would go to videolan.org, click the download link, wait 10 seconds for the download to start, wait for the download to finish, open the .dmg file, drag and drop VLC.app into the Applications folder, and finally eject the .dmg so no one tries to use the app from there.

The Fast, Automated Method

Compare that to running this one command to get the job done:

autopkg run VLC.install

Within a few seconds VLC is installed and I can be out the door.  A long time ago, I was inspired by how you can make your own bulk app installer, which is why I decided to write about this trick.

What About A GUI Option?

If you’re not a fan of the command line, there is also a GUI front end you can use to achieve the same result.

What Is autopkg?

It’s really a tool designed for system administrators to use when managing hundreds or thousands of Macs, but it can also be useful for the home user.

What Else Can I Install?

Some of the apps let you do a direct install, while others let you download the .pkg or.dmg.  There are other people who write their own recipes for installing stuff by forking the autopkg repo, but the default autopkg recipes have plenty of apps to work with (some of the bolded ones are the more common ones):

  • Adium
  • AdobeAcrobatPro9Update
  • AdobeAcrobatProXUpdate
  • AdobeAIR
  • AdobeAir
  • AdobeAIR
  • AdobeFlashPlayer
  • AdobeFlashPlayerExtractPackage
  • AdobeReader
  • AdobeReaderDC
  • AdobeReaderUpdates
  • AutoPkgGitMaster
  • BBEdit
  • Coda2
  • Cyberduck
  • Dropbox
  • Evernote
  • Facter
  • Firefox
  • GoogleChrome
  • GoogleEarth
  • Handbrake
  • Hiera
  • MakeCatalogs
  • MSExcel2016
  • MSOffice2011Updates
  • MSOneNote2016
  • MSOutlook2016
  • MSPowerPoint2016
  • MSWord2016
  • munkitools
  • munkitools2-autobuild
  • munkitools2
  • OmniFocus
  • OmniFocus2
  • OmniGraffle
  • OmniGraffle6
  • OmniGrafflePro
  • OmniGraphSketcher
  • OmniGroupProduct
  • OmniOutliner
  • OmniOutlinerPro
  • OmniPlan
  • OracleJava7
  • OracleJava8
  • Praat
  • Puppet-Agent
  • Puppet
  • SampleSharedProcessor
  • SassafrasK2Client
  • Silverlight
  • Skype
  • Spotify
  • TextMate
  • TextMate2
  • TextWrangler
  • TheUnarchiver
  • Thunderbird
  • Transmit
  • VLC
  • XLD
  • XQuartz

2 Replies to “Quickly Download Or Install Common Apps Without Going To The Website”

  1. Jacob,

    You do know about ninite.com, right?

    Edit: Oh, ha! This is for OS X. Totally thought you were talking about Windows PC… my bad.

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