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Introduction Written by Sarah Reichelt

What do I love about programming for the Mac?

I use three Apple devices every day. My iPhone is primarily for communication; my iPad is mostly for entertainment. But the device where I spend most of my time is my Mac. The Mac is the most powerful, flexible and unrestricted device Apple makes, and I love using it.

When writing Mac apps, I get to do so many things that iOS apps cannot do, are not allowed to do, or are not suited to. I can make beautiful, intricate, powerful apps that I use every day.

I use and write iOS apps, too. There is definitely a place for both, but I feel sad that so many developers don’t even consider the enormous possibilities of the Mac app development world.

I’m so happy that you’ve decided to consider those possibilities and join me on this journey!

How to read this book

The chapters in each section are designed to take you from start to finish building a particular kind of app. While the book is fun from the first page to the last, if one section especially piques your interest, you’re free to dive right in there.

This book is split into five sections.

Section I: Your First App: On This Day

Begin your journey developing for macOS by building a full-featured app using SwiftUI. The app, On This Day, accesses a public network API to collect information about events, births and deaths for a given date. Along the way, you’ll learn how to manage multiple windows, add menu and toolbar commands and choose multiple display options. You’ll experience first-hand the power of SwiftUI and see just how easy it is to build an app that has all of the look and feel you expect in a macOS app.

Section II: Building a Menu Bar App

In this section, you’ll use AppKit to build a Pomodoro-style time tracking app that lives only in the macOS menu bar. Along the way, you’ll learn how to manage timers, update the menu in real-time, and integrate a SwiftUI view into an AppKit app. You’ll also learn about how macOS “sandboxes” apps to protect both them and the system itself.

Section III: Building a Document-based App

In this section, you’ll return to using SwiftUI and explore how to build a document-based app. You’ll create a Markdown editor — there can never be enough Markdown editors in the world! — that allows you to preview your text in real time. Along the way, you’ll add menu commands to change the styling of the preview and add formatting to your Markdown text.

Section IV: Advanced Wizardry

Because macOS has its roots in Unix, it provides a vast array of command line tools which allow power users to perform tasks ranging from system management to image manipulation. In this section, you’ll learn how to build a graphical front-end for one such command: sips. Once you’ve built your sips GUI, you’ll enable automation to allow your new command to appear in the Services menu and Shortcuts app. When you complete this section, you, too, will be a wizard!

Section V: Distributing Your macOS Apps

Once you’ve written your app, you’ll want to distribute it to others so they can benefit from your creativity. On macOS, you have more distribution options than you do on iOS. In this section, you’ll explore the pros and cons of those options so you can choose which is best for you.

Have a technical question? Want to report a bug? You can ask questions and report bugs to the book authors in our official book forum here.

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