4 Ways to Generate a List of Apps Installed on Your Mac

Lori Kaufman 30-04-2018

Do you have tons of apps installed on your Mac, some of which you’ve totally forgotten about? You can take stock of them and keep a reference list of every program on your system in just a few moments.


Today we’ll cover four ways you can generate a list of installed apps on your Mac.

Why Would I Want a List of Installed Apps?

There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to create a list of your apps:

Let’s look at the best ways to make this list.

1. List All Apps Using Finder and TextEdit

All apps that come bundled with a new Mac A Complete Guide to Default Mac Apps and What They Do Here's a complete guide to Mac default apps so you know what's on your system and which apps are worth using. Read More , plus apps you installed both through the App Store and most package managers, are in the Applications folder.

You can easily generate a list of all apps in the Applications folder using Finder and TextEdit. To begin, open Finder and hit Cmd + Shift + A to jump to the Applications folder.


If you’re not currently viewing the contents of the Applications folder as a list, press Cmd + 2, or go to View > as List.

Show Applications folder as a list in Finder

Some apps are in subfolders in the Applications folder. To display apps in subfolders, expand the folders you’d like to include by clicking on the triangle icon to the left of the folder.

Once you’ve expanded all the folders you want, hit Cmd + A to select all the items in the Applications folder. Then press Cmd + C to copy the list.


Select all apps and copy in Finder

Open a new document in TextEdit. Then go to Edit > Paste and Match Style, or hit Cmd + Option + Shift + V.

Paste and Match Style in TextEdit

All the apps in Finder’s Applications folder, including apps in expanded folders, are pasted into the TextEdit file. Some of the files in the subfolders may not be apps. You can go through the list and delete any files that do not end in .app.


Hit Cmd + S to save this file as either a TXT or RTF file. You should copy this file to an external or network drive so it’s available for use once you’re no longer using your current machine.

Apps list pasted into TextEdit

2. List All Apps Using the Terminal

If you like using the Terminal, rather than Finder, you can generate a list of the apps in the Applications folder using a command. Launch a Terminal window (from Applications > Utilities) and type the following command at the prompt:

ls -la /Applications/ > /Users/[USERNAME]/InstalledApps/InstalledAppsTerminal.txt

This generates a detailed directory listing of the Applications folder and writes it to a text file at the path specified. Make sure to replace USERNAME with yours, and feel free to change the path and file name if you like.


Generate an installed apps list of the Applications folder using Terminal

The -la attributes tells the system to show a detailed list of all files in the folder (-l), including hidden files (-a). This provides a more detailed list than the Finder and TextEdit method discussed in the previous section.

Installed apps list from Applications folder using Terminal

3. List All APP Files Everywhere Using Terminal

Sometimes apps are installed in locations other than the Applications folder, especially if you download apps from outside the App Store. In this case, you can generate a list of apps installed anywhere for any user and in any folder using a command in the Terminal.

Launch a Terminal window (Applications > Utilities) and type the following command at the prompt:

sudo find / -iname '*.app' > /Users/[USERNAME]/InstalledApps/InstalledAppsOnSystemTerminal.txt

This finds any APP file on your system, ignoring case (-iname), and sends the results to the specified text file. Remember to replace USERNAME with yours and change the path and file name if you wish.

You can also limit the results to a specific folder by replacing the slash (/) after find with the path to the folder to search.

Find all .app files using Terminal

There’s a chance you’ll see some Operation not permitted messages. This is because the find command searches the entire system, and some areas of the system don’t allow access. You may also see the Not a directory message. Don’t worry about either of these—you’ll still get a list of the APP files on your system.

The list includes the full path to each file.

List of installed apps on entire system using Terminal

4. List All Mac App Store Apps Using Terminal

You might want to know which apps you’ve installed just from the Mac App Store. To generate this list, launch a Terminal window (Applications > Utilities) and type the following command at the prompt:

find /Applications -path '*Contents/_MASReceipt/receipt' -maxdepth 4 -print |\sed '; s#/Applications/##'

This command looks in the Applications folder, then goes into the receipts folder for each app (which is in the package contents of every app) to see which apps have a receipt from the Mac App Store. Hopefully, you didn’t purchase any apps that are a waste of money.

The results of the search are listed in the Terminal window. I tried to redirect the results to a text file, but that didn’t work with this command. However, you can easily select the list of APP files and copy it (Cmd + C). Then you can paste it into a document in TextEdit, or another document app, and save the list.

Generate list of installed Mac App Store apps

Back Up Your Mac App Lists

With the four methods we discussed, you could get up to four different lists of apps. So it’s probably a good idea to use multiple methods to generate more than one list of apps to be sure you know all the apps installed on your Mac.

Remember to store your lists of apps on an external or network drive so you have it when setting up your new Mac or the reinstalled system on your current Mac. Text files are a good choice of format for your lists. Since TextEdit or any other text editor can read them, you won’t need to install special software.

Whatever the situation, it’s a good idea to back up your lists manually or include them in your Mac backup solution 5 Local Mac Backup Solutions That Aren't Time Machine There are lots of Mac backup options out there, and many of them have features that Apple's default backup app just can't compete with. Read More .

Related topics: Data Backup, Mac App Store, Mac Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. useskle
    November 21, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Great piece, and just what I was looking for as I'm preparing for a re-format, re-install and am trying cover all the bases. A couple of observations: Methods #1 and #4 worked like a charm, but methods #2 and #3 both returned the following string:
    -bash: /Users/useskle/InstalledApps/InstalledAppsTerminal.txt: No such file or directory
    ...not sure if Ms. Kaufman, or others, have any suggestions, but either way, appreciate the article.