How to Try Mac App Store Applications for Free

It’s easy to get caught up in the Mac’s App Store trying different applications, and an hour into browsing having spent $100 for a handful of applications, only to find out only one of them is something that you would actually use. There’s actually an easy way to try many of the paid applications for free.

The Mac’s App Store is a beautiful utility. It looks good and is easy to navigate. After opening it up, it’s practically begging you to buy some apps. Set up much like the iTunes store and the App Store for the iPhone and iPad, it has a very attractive interface. It’s much easier to find applications via this app, though it should be noted that all available apps aren’t listed here.


The problem is that many of these applications are asking you to pay to download them; many of the more enticing ones aren’t just a dollar or two like the many of the apps in the App Store for the iPhone and iPad. Some are, but many are asking you to pay $19.99, $29.99, $49.99, and even more. There is no guarantee you’ll like the application once you download it, and while paying a dollar or two could be worth it, spending $20 – $40 and more isn’t.


However, there’s actually a trick to downloading many of these apps for free. Some of them already come in paid and free versions. Doing a search for email apps produces the list found above. Email Converter is already in a regular paid version, a Pro version, and a Lite version, for $1.99, $2.99, and free, respectively. Of course the free version is more limited, but it at least gives you an idea of the the app’s usefulness to you personally.

Most applications don’t have a free version attached, or at least it’s not listed in the Mac’s App Store. Looking at the app for Postbox, it’s the most expensive one listed at $29.99. But who wants to spend $29.99 only to find out this mail app doesn’t suit their needs? Listed on the right is a link that says Postbox, Inc. Web Site.


Once you click on the link and go to the site, you see that it has two options on the site, Download and Buy. Underneath the two options in small print it says, “30-day FREE trial for Mac OS X.” If you click Buy, you’re spending that money outright to download the app. Yet if you click Download, you’re getting thirty days to try Postbox before you have to pay for it. Once the thirty days are up, the app will ask you if you want to buy it or not. If you decide the app is worth the money, you can download it at the point, but if not, you’re not out anything other than your time to download and try it.


Most of the websites for the apps listed in the Mac App Store have this option. Some will only link you back to the App Store to buy it, meaning that’s the only choice. It’s more common to provide the free trial download, though, so it’s always worth the check to see if there’s a free trial.

It should be noted, however, that the one thing you miss out on using this method is the organization benefits of the App Store. It doesn’t know you downloaded the app elsewhere, so it won’t be able to let you know if it has an update. Most apps have their own system for doing this though, so it doesn’t present too much of a problem.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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