Distributing Mac apps outside the App Store, a quick start guide

The Mac has always been very different from its close relative, iOS, especially when it comes to what a user is or is not allowed to run on their system. Even with the introduction of Apple Silicon, Apple has made it very clear that the Mac is still the Mac, and is still hackable, even when running on the new architecture.

What this means for us developers is that, when targeting the Mac platform, we have choices: we can distribute our apps independently, outside the Mac App Store, through the Mac App Store exclusively, or through both at the same time.

This article is my brain dump on the subject. It is meant to be a guide on the things that you’ll need to know about when distributing a Mac app outside the App Store, rather than a how-to tutorial. My hope is that having everything listed here will help demystify the process for beginners, and the descriptions of my own process will be useful as starting points.

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