How to make an app

Apple is perhaps more known for iOS apps these days, but the Mac’s still going strong – and importantly for app developers, has an audience keen to pay for quality software. Here's how to make some!

01. Check out the Mac App Programming Guide

How to make an app: Mac app programming guides

Don't let the lack of recent updates put you off checking this out

Alarm bells might ring on spotting the lead image here, which sports an old-style OS X Dock. And indeed, Apple’s guide’s not been updated since 2015. However, it still provides a decent overview on the fundamentals of creating Mac apps, so give it a read.

02. Learn about macOS Human Interface Guidelines

How to make an app: MacOS human interface guidelines

The HIG is the bible of MacOS development

A key factor in the Mac’s success has been the intuitive nature of Mac software, driven in part by consistent interface components. Much of the magic is down to the Human Interface Guidelines, which should be considered a bible of sorts for any serious Mac developer.

03. Create apps with Swift 3

How to make an app: Create apps with Swift3

Learn the basics of building an app for MacOS here

This Lynda.com series takes you through the basics of building a Mac app. It starts with Xcode, and introduces the important concepts you’ll need to learn in order to create a Mac app. You’ll also learn how to get apps on to the Mac App Store and optimise them for the Mac’s full-screen mode.

04. Create your first macOS apps

How to make an app: Create your first MacOS apps

This series for beginners is pretty comprehensive

We’re in full-on developer mode in this raywenderlich.com series for beginners. The first part leads you through a tour of Xcode before building a ‘Hello, world’ app. After that, you’ll create a timer, beefing up your interface and user interaction smarts. 

05. Master macOS windows

How to make an app: Master MacOS windows

Windows are key to understanding Mac app building (ironically)

Still on raywenderlich.com, this feature focusses purely on windows – the containers for Mac apps. It explores apps with single windows, library-style interfaces, and multi-window demands, and how to work with them all. A related (and more recent) tutorial delves into view controllers, which are useful as building blocks for complex user interfaces.

06. Build a show/hide macOS app

app in xcode

This quick project will see you build an app in no time

If you just want to get on and build a quick project, this six-minute video is ideal. Crack open Xcode, follow along, and you’ll end up with a little app that shows/hides all other apps.

07. Create a word reversing macOS app

Another super-quick project, this video takes under ten minutes to lead you through the entire process of building an app that reverses text strings you input. Hungry for more? Check the author’s feed, because she’s uploaded a bunch of other Swift tutorials for macOS and iOS.

08. Add Touch Bar support to macOS apps

The Touch Bar is Apple’s most recent Mac-oriented input innovation, and we like what developers are doing with it. Want to enhance your own apps with Touch Bar goodness? This quickfire video tutorial from Zappy Code shows you how.

Next page: App dev tips and cross-platform thinking