App iOS & Mac

How to Run iOS Apps on Mac

One of the benefits of having a MacBook or one of the new Macs with Apple silicon is that you can actually use a number of compatible iOS and iPadOS apps on the computer. You can even run Android apps on a Mac. They are labeled as such for easy identification. Once purchased or downloaded, you can use the app the same way you would on your phone, with a few tweaks that involve using the keyboard instead of a touchscreen. Here’s how to do it.

How to run iOS apps on your phone on Mac

  1. Visit the App Store on your Mac and select your name in the bottom left corner or sign in if you’re not already signed in.
    App Store app on Mac with the person's name selected.

  2. Here you will see a list of the Mac apps you have downloaded. Go to the second screen that appears iPhone and iPad apps.
    App Store app on Mac with the iPhone and iPad apps tab selected.

  3. Find the app and if it doesn’t show up Not verified for macOSPress To download (the cloud icon with the down arrow).
    App Store app on Mac with the Airbnb app selected and the cloud icon shown for download.

  4. If the app requires in-app downloads, a notification will appear asking you to confirm permissions. Select Get on.
    App Store app on Mac showing a popup asking you to confirm automatic downloads for in-app content.

  5. Wait for the app to finish downloading.
    App Store app on Mac with the Airbnb apps selected and the download progress wheel shown.

  6. Once fully downloaded, Open the app.
    App Store app on Mac with the Airbnb app downloaded and shown open.

  7. You can now access it as you would on your iPhone. (Depending on the app, you may need to log in.)
    The Airbnb iOS app on a Mac.

How to set up automatic iOS downloads on your Mac

If you want all downloads from your phone to be immediately ready to use on your Mac, you can set this to happen automatically.

  1. Go to the App Store on your Mac.
  2. Select App Store in the top menu.
    App Store app on Mac with the App Store icon selected.

  3. Select Institutions.
    App Store menu on Mac with Settings selected.

  4. Go to Automatically download apps purchased on other devices.
    App Store settings menu with Auto download apps purchased on other devices not selected.

  5. Add a check mark next to Automatically download apps purchased on other devices. Now any apps you download to an iPhone or iPad using the same Apple account will be automatically downloaded to your Mac.
    App Store settings menu with Auto download apps purchased on other devices selected.

How to Download a New iOS App to Your Mac

If there’s an app that’s only available for iOS or iPadOS, but you want to open it on your Mac instead, you can download it directly to the Mac even if it’s not on your phone or iPad. A good one would be a weather app, as there are only weather widgets for Mac.

  1. Open the App Store on your Mac.
    App Store home screen on a Mac.

  2. In the Search bartype the app or type of app you want.
  3. Select To get next to the desired app.
    App Store app on a Mac where the Accuweather app is searched for and selected.

  4. Select to install.
    App Store app with the Accuweather app selected and Install showing.

  5. Wait until the app is completely downloaded.
    App Store on Mac with the Accuweather app selected and downloaded.

  6. Crane Open.
    App Store on Mac with AccuWeather app downloaded and opened.

  7. Use the app as you would on a mobile device.
    AccuWeather app on a Mac.

How to Use iOS Apps on Mac

Once you download compatible iOS apps to your Mac with a recently released operating system like macOS Sonoma, you might wonder how to use them. This would be especially true if they typically used the iPhone’s touchscreen capabilities. There are solutions to use the keyboard. For example, if you hold down the Option key, you can use the trackpad as a virtual touchscreen.

The Airbnb app settings page with Touch Alternatives for use on a Mac.

Various apps have alternative settings available for you to use. Visit the Settings page for the app once you open it on your computer and see what alternative options are available to comfortably navigate it from a keyboard computer. In terms of display, the app can still appear in a small window on the computer instead of filling the entire screen. But if the app is built for iPad, you at least get a larger version that’s easier to use on the larger Mac screen.

However, before you download an iOS version of an app to your computer, first make sure there isn’t an actual Mac version available. You’ll get the best possible experience with a Mac version, if available, and you can sign in with your existing credentials. (Note: This may not work for some mobile games, which have separate accounts and progression for mobile versus Mac.)

Please note that some iOS mobile apps are not available for Mac at all. More often, apps designed for iPadOS are available for download, as most iPhone apps are also available for iPadOS. As noted, the iPad version will offer a larger screen window anyway, compared to a small, vertical window designed for a smartphone. But you’ll find that more and more apps work with the latest Mac models using Apple silicon chips, so you can truly enjoy a seamless experience across all your Apple devices.

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