One of the good things about the Apple Mac and its OS X (Mountain Lion) operating system is that its external, optional, third-party applications (programs) are stored on one website known as The App Store. So unlike Windows 7 where you have to download third-party software (programs) from individual websites all over the internet, with OS X (Mountain Lion) you simply visit The App Store; using the App application. And as everything is integrated with your AppleID, iCloud Account and Credit/Debit Card purchasing and installing an app couldn't be easier.

In this section I am going to show you how to purchase and install an app (application) that allows you to reveal the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) Colour Values (Codes) of a particular colour shown on the desktop screen. This is great if you are a website designer for example whereby you frequently look at other websites for inspiration and colour and think to yourself "I like that colour.....I want to use it in my next project". So if you see a nice shade of red on a website or inside a document that you would like to use you simply use this Color Snapper app to snapshot (copy) the RGB Colour Values (Codes) for that particular shade of red, which you then insert (paste) into your own website code.

Irrelevant of the Color Snapper app I am demonstrating here, the same process is required if you want to download the Facebook app, Pages app, Skype app and so on. The first step to downloading and installing any app (application) is to use the App Store application found in the APPLICATIONS folder. So begin by opening FINDER and clicking on the APPLICATIONS folder icon. From there double click on the APP STORE application icon to open the App Store window and launch the actual application.

Fig 1.0  Double click on the APP STORE application icon to open the App Store window

When the App Store window opens (below) it normally shows you the Featured (Promoted) Applications website page first, within the App Store, in the hope that one of those apps will catch your eye. In this example though I have purposely clicked on the TOP CHARTS button at the top of the window for the sole purpose of showing you what common (most popular / top of the charts) apps look like and more importantly for you to identify what you already have installed on your apple mac computer. You could click on the PURCHASES button to reveal the same results, but I believe the TOP CHARTS website page is a nicer introduction to the app store. Saying this; don't be afraid to explore the other buttons - CATEGORIES and UPDATES. Browsing the app store will show you what apps you have purchased and installed, what apps are popular, what apps have updated versions and what apps are free. You can also view app ratings, comments and prices.

In this example I don't want to browse through the app website pages wading through categories and hundreds of app descriptions. I just want to search for a particular type of app; the Color Picker type of apps. Therefore I need to click inside the SEARCH edit box, to the right of the App Store window, and then enter the words (keywords) Color and Picker. As I do so, the SEARCH edit box will bring up suggestions based on my keywords (color and picker) whereby I can then select (click on) one of those suggestions; such as Color Picker.

Fig 1.1  Type your keyword(s) into the SEARCH edit box and then select (click on) a suggestion to continue

As you can see below; Clicking on the Color Picker suggestion (menu-item) above has narrowed down my search and revealed plenty of Color Picker type apps only, within the main window pane of the App Store window. From these suggestions I can now narrow down my search further by ruling out the Free Apps (you get what you pay for), Over-Priced (Ridiculously Expensive) Apps and Low Rated (Star) Apps. In this particular collection of apps some of them are not actual colour pickers. Some of them are just Colour Chart colour selectors/pickers as opposed to true "get the colour codes off the desktop screen" type of colour pickers. I know this because I have since clicked on a few app images/titles in order to view their descriptions, comments and ratings. You should do the same so that you know what type of app it is you are buying.

The same would apply if you were looking for a word processor app. You would need to make sure it meets all your requirements before buying it - Can it open and save Microsoft Word documents? PDF documents? Does it have a Spell Checker? Does it work with iCloud?

Fig 1.2  Click on the image or title of an app in order to view its description, comment(s) and rating(s).

By default (normal behaviour) the App Store only shows a brief description of what an app is all about. If you want to see more of the description you have to click on the MORE link next to, or underneath, the brief description in order to expand its information.

Fig 1.3  Click on the MORE link next to, or underneath, a description to expand its information.

Fig 1.4  More of the description has been revealed by clicking on the MORE link

A description normally only acts a "Quick Look" piece of information. If you really want to see what an app can do you are better off visiting its website, if it has one, and/or searching Google for any reviews about it (good or bad). In this case, the Color Snapper app has a SUPPORT link on the app store window and can also be found via Google.

Another thing to look for is the app's UPDATED date, as shown inside the information box on the app store window. In this case the Color Snapper app was last updated on the 16th March 2013 - It is now 5th May 2013. Apps are not, and don't have to be, updated every day, week or year. As long as they work on your version of OS X, are not too expensive and have the features you are looking for I would not worry too much if an app was last updated a year ago for example.

Fig 1.5  The Information Box reveals quite a lot of valuable information about an app, such as when it was last updated.

One final thing to consider before buying an app are the reviews of other buyers. As with all reviews, they are 50/50. Meaning, you read between their lines in order to gauge their worth. Although you get some reviews stating "Just what I was looking for.....", "Easy to use" and so on, I tend to look at the bad reviews whereby people have more likely had problems with the app. People who write good reviews, in my humble opinion, don't really fully test the app. It's working for them so they write a good review. People who write bad reviews are better, in my humble opinion, because they tend to find proper faults with the app and tell you of missing features. These kinds of review are great because they reveal more of the truth about the app.

In the example below there is only one review for the current version of this app, which has been given a 5 Star rating by the reviewer, but if you look more closely at the app store window you will see a button called ALL VERSIONS (21) that when clicked on displays the reviews for all, past and present, versions of this app. This enables you to see if people liked the previous versions and what kind of updates have been carried out on those previous versions, if any. In this example four people gave the app a 1 Star rating.

Fig 1.6  ALWAYS read the reviews for an app - They contain vital clues to how good or bad an app is and will be.

Once you have read an app's description, checked when it was last UPDATED, are happy with its price and have checked it reviews, both on the app store and on Google (if reviews are available on Google), the next step is to click on the blue PRICE button of an app. In this next example I am going to buy the app called ColorSnapper for £2.99 by clicking on its blue £2.99 PRICE button. Doing so will make it change into a green BUY APP button. This is the App Store's way of saying "Are you sure you want to buy this app?". If you do, simply click on the green BUY APP button to continue.

Fig 1.7  If you want to buy an app click on its blue PRICE button (i.e. £2.99 button)

Fig 1.8  Click on the green BUY APP button if you still want to buy this app

Even after clicking on the green BUY APP button the app store still gives you a chance to cancel (back out of the purchase) - It needs your credit/debit card details before the app can actually, physically, be purchased, downloaded and installed. So if you do not want to continue with the purchase simply close the app store window.

If you have already given Apple your credit/debit card details, perhaps when you purchased something from iTunes or set up your iPad for the first time, all you need to do now is enter your AppleID password into the PASSWORD edit box and then click on the SIGN IN button. Otherwise you will have to enter your credit/debit card details from scratch. Either way, once your credit/debit card records have been processed the app will then begin to download and be installed automatically without your assistance. That's the beauty of the App Store. Purchased apps are downloaded and installed automatically without your help.

Fig 1.9  Enter your AppleID password into the PASSWORD edit box, click on the SIGN IN button and then wait for the app to download and install.

Fig 1.10  The app has been downloaded and is now being installed automatically without your assistance

Fig 1.11  The app has been installed successfully

When the installation of an app is complete (Fig 1.11 above) you should find its .app file inside the APPLICATIONS folder. In this case double clicking on the application icon, from with the APPLICATIONS folder, will launch (run/execute) the actual app (ColorSnapper application).

Fig 1.12  Double click on the newly installed app's application icon, within the APPLICATIONS folder, to launch the actual app.

Fig 1.13  The ColorSnapper application launches its Preferences window upon first launch

Fig 1.14  Clicking on the PICK COLOR menu-item allows you to snapshot a colour from the desktop screen

Fig 1.153  The ColorSnapper application allows you to use a previously snapshotted colour for website design purposes

So as you can see from the above examples; You launch the App Store application, browse for an application to purchase, purchase it, download and install it and then use it. The App Store itself has thousands of apps (applications) to choose from. Some free and some you have to purchase. Common apps for the first time apple mac user are typically - Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Pages, Numbers, Dropbox, PixelMator, Firefox, Google Chrome, FileZilla and Thunderbird amongst others. You would download and install them as exampled above, even if they are free.