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How to Get Great Deals on Mac Apps

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There are always deals to be had on Mac apps. Every day developers are offering their awesome apps at a reduced rate through app discount sites, as part of app bundles or even just putting them on sale in the Mac App Store. 

In this tutorial I’ll show you some of the best Mac app deals sites and how to track the price of apps you have your eye on. That way you’ll always know when they’re available for less.

MacUpdate

MacUpdate bills itself as an alternative to Apple’s Mac App Store. MacUpdate features over 40,000 apps and, if you sign up and buy through them, it will keep track of serial numbers and notify you when new updates become available. As useful as these features are, what I’m interested in right now is getting great deals.

Six days a week MacUpdate Promo offers a different Mac app at an exclusive 50% discount for a short period of time. You have to buy the app through MacUpdate rather than the Mac App Store. While the discount they offer isn’t as good as some other sites, the apps are often better known. For example, a favourite app of many Tuts+ authors, TextExpander, is on sale at the time of writing.

Even better, a few times a year they'll offer a bundle of ten apps for 50 dollars. This bundle is always discounted by a minimum of 90%! Often, the bundle features an app worth far more than the bundle price–Parallels Desktop, an app that runs Windows programs on the Mac, retails for eighty dollars and I got it, and nine other apps, for 50 dollars in a MacUpdate deal last year.

TextExpander available for 25% off on MacUpdate.

StackSocial

Unlike MacUpdate, StackSocial doesn’t just feature Mac apps. You’ll also see a broad selection of physical products, online courses, design resources and subscriptions. The discounts vary wildly–some things are only offered at 10% or 15% off, while others are reduced to nothing.

The best thing about StackSocial is the Name Your Own Price bundles. A few times a year they feature a bundle that includes a few great Mac apps. The current one features Fantastical and Path Finder 6. Some of the apps are truly available for any price, but to unlock the best apps, you need to name a price higher than the current average. 

If the current average named price is ten dollars, you need to pay ten dollars and one cent to unlock all the apps–or just pay a dollar and get three or four of them. A portion of the money is also given to great causes–when you buy the bundle you get to pick one from the list of available charities. This is the same model that was pioneered by the Humble Bundle.

StackSocial's Name Your Own Price summer bundle.

Two Dollar Tuesday

Two Dollar Tuesday does exactly what it says on the tin. Every Tuesday they feature a couple of Mac apps that are available for a limited time for two dollars. The apps they list are normally available in the Mac App Store. The discount can be significant–at the time of writing, one of the apps, on offer, is down from thirty dollars to two dollars. That’s a 93% discount!

Two Dollar Tuesday has a newsletter that you can sign up to. Obviously not every deal they feature will be of use to everyone, but over the course of a few months you can pick up some gems for a nice discount.

An 87% discount on Two Dollar Tuesday.

The Humble Bundle

The Humble Bundle popularised the bundle model used by many other deal sites.

Traditionally, it offers a collection of games and you decide how much you’d like to pay to the developers, the Humble Bundle operators and one of a choice of charities. Similar to StackSocial, you need to pay more than the average to unlock the best rewards. 

Although Macs weren’t always known for gaming, the situation has improved in recent years. Not all the games in a given bundle will be Mac compatible, but there will always be a few that are. The ones that aren’t are always clearly indicated so you won’t be given a nasty surprise.

If you like to game on your Mac, you should check out the Humble Bundle site. As well as their highly publicised bundles, they offer smaller weekly bundles and daily discounts in the Humble Store.

Some of the Daily Deals on the Humble Store.

AppShopper

While all the sites above offer great discounts, the deals are hard to predict; also many app developers simply put their apps on sale in the Mac App Store without any discount site fanfare. 

If there is a particular app that you want, but don’t want to pay full price, AppShopper can help. With AppShopper, you create a wish list of Mac and iOS apps in which you are interested. When the price drops, you get an email letting you know. AppShopper also tracks prices over time so you can see if an app has ever been on sale before, or if the developer is very rigid with their pricing.

To set up a wish list, create an account with AppShopper. Search AppShopper for the app you are interested in. On the app’s page you will be able to see what price changes and updates it has had. Beneath the price, there is a little Want It checkbox. Once you check it, the app is added to your wish list.

Fantastical's page on AppShopper. Note the price and update activity in the bottom right.

Tip: AppShopper will actually track the discounts from the sites featured above–so long as the deal is available in the Mac App Store.

A Different Way to Get Deals

If you’re looking for a quick discount, the Computer Skills Editor, Johnny Winter, wrote a tutorial on how to get 20% off everything you buy in the App Store. Johnny recommends buying discounted iTunes vouchers–which you can often get for around 20% off–and using them to make all your purchases. Check out the How to Get a 20% or Higher Discount on All of Your Mac App Store Purchases tutorial.

Conclusion

Finding deals on Mac apps is easy if you know where to look. Every day there are different apps available at a discount through sites like MacUpdate, StackSocial and TwoDollarTuesday. If you want games, then the Humble Store is where to find them. 

Even better, a few times per year many of these sites offer bundles of apps at huge discounts–or they even let you name your own price. If it’s a particular app you’re looking to save money on, AppShopper shows you price changes and will notify you if there’s a price drop.

If you’ve any favourite sites that offer discounts on Mac apps, or know of a killer bundle deal, please let me know in the comments.

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