5 Ways to Run Multiple Copies of an App on Your Mac

Shubham Agarwal 12-09-2019

You might keep more than one account for certain apps in order to separate your personal and professional lives. But macOS still can’t run multiple copies of the same app, which means you have to constantly sign in and out to switch profiles.


Until Apple brings this functionality natively, there are a few third-party methods you can rely on. Here’s how you can launch more than one instances of the same app on macOS.

Why You May Want to Run Multiple Instances of an App

There are several scenarios where you may feel the need to run more than one session of an app.

You can do this to use your work and personal accounts side-by-side in different windows. Since you don’t have to create a new user on your computer, you can easily multitask between your two profiles.

In addition, these methods are not necessarily for handling several accounts at once. They can also come in handy when you want to, for instance, simultaneously operate on numerous sections or files on an app. In these scenarios, you can log in twice with the same profile and have as many windows of an app open as you’d like.

Options for Casual Purposes

If you’re looking for a quick way to manage your accounts, you might not need to go through the full steps to produce multiple instances of an app. Before diving into the more advanced solutions, have a look at these basic methods first.


1. Use Apps’ Built-in Multi-User Features

Manage multiple accounts on Google Chrome

To cater to people who juggle multiple accounts, some apps have begun to include multi-user features. Without any external tools, you have the option to add multiple accounts and access them in a common or separate window.

On Google Chrome, you can set up a new user by clicking your profile picture at the top-right corner. Similarly, Slack lets you jump between workspaces. Click the Add button on the left menu to configure a second account.

Another nifty app that has a multi-user facility is Franz. Franz allows you to manage all your instant messaging services like Telegram, WhatsApp, and even Gmail in one place. Further, you have the ability to add multiple accounts for each service.


2. Enable Fast User Switching on Mac

Enable fast user switching mac

macOS has a handy feature for people looking for a more efficient way to jump between their accounts. Called Fast User Switching, it speeds up the process of switching accounts on your Mac. While this method won’t let you create additional instances of an app, using it barely requires any configuration from you.

To get started, all you need is another user on your Mac. You can create a new one from Settings > Users & Groups if needed.

Once you’ve done that, visit the Users & Groups page again. There, click Login Options and enable the Show Fast User Switching Menu option.


Now, you can click your username on the top menu bar and select a different user to instantly swap to it. When you return, your current windows and active apps will remain as they were when you left them.

3. Take Advantage of the Service’s Web App

web and native apps macOS

Web apps are often powerful enough to replace their native counterparts, offering similar functionality to the desktop versions. You can take advantage of this to effectively open multiple instances of the same app.

To install a web app from Google Chrome, go to the app’s URL and log in. Click the three-dot menu at the top-right corner and under More Tools, choose Create Shortcut. In the resulting menu, you can check the Open As Window option so that the web app opens in a dedicated window instead of a new tab.


Options for Advanced Use

The above options are geared for average users purposes and don’t technically let you run multiple copies of a Mac app. If none of those got the job done for you, read on for more advanced methods.

4. (Actually) Run Multiple Copies of an App

run multiple copies of an app on mac

The only way you can actually run multiple copies of an app on macOS is through a custom script. In spite of how that sounds, the process doesn’t demand any technical knowledge and is largely straightforward.

First, open the pre-installed Script Editor program on your Mac. This is easiest to find by opening Spotlight with Cmd + Space and searching directly for it.

When you launch Script Editor, you’ll see an empty document-like editing window. Here, you’ll need to first copy and paste the following line:

do shell script "open -n"

Next, locate the app you’d like to clone in the Applications folder. Drag and drop its icon right before the second quotation mark. For instance, if you picked Simplenote, you should have the following:

do shell script "open -n /Applications/"

Script editor macos

Press Cmd + K to compile the script, which should take a second or two. Lastly, hit Cmd + S to save the file. Give it a name, set its location, and most importantly, select Application in the File Format dropdown. Click Save and you’re all set.

Navigate to the directory where you saved the file. When you double-click the icon, it will initiate a new instance of the associated app. You can repeat the action depending on how many copies you want.

Since these copies are instances, they won’t be available among other apps. You’ll have to do this from the start every time you want to use your second account.

5. Install a Virtual Machine

The last and the most in-depth method is to install a virtual machine on your Mac. Virtual machines allow you to run another operating system inside a desktop app. They’re primarily for professionals and developers, but you can use them for separating your personal and work accounts too.

Parallels is a popular option, but it’s not free. Give VirtualBox a try if you want to do this without paying. Either choice lets you to easily run Windows programs on macOS The Easiest Way to Run Windows Programs on Mac Running Windows software on your Mac isn't as tough as you'd think. Here are the most popular ways to run Windows programs on macOS, including the best method for most people. Read More .

Mastering App Instances on Your Mac

Until Apple brings an official option to launch multiple instances of the same app, these methods should do the trick for you. But unless you’re comfortable setting up a virtual machine, unfortunately none of them are ideal solutions.

For even more Mac productivity, check out some great apps that create unified workspaces 5 Mac Apps That Create Unified Workspaces From All Your Apps If you struggle to manage tasks your Mac, check out these all-in-one workspace apps that combine all your web and desktop apps. Read More from the services you use every day.

Related topics: Account Sharing, Google Chrome, Mac Tips, Mac Tricks, Virtual Machine.

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  1. Jim
    April 26, 2020 at 2:53 am

    1. Open up finder
    2. Go to "Applications"
    3. Duplicate your app and make sure it's named something else
    4. You can open up each of them in their own instance.

  2. Bill G
    September 15, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    1) Actually, a version of Parallels available from the Mac App store IS free, but it can only be used to run MacOSes, not Windows or Linux.
    2) You don't need a script to open multiple apps. Just type the "open -n [application path]" from the terminal command line.