5 Methods to Run A number of Copies of an App on Your Mac

You can have more than one account for certain apps to separate your personal and professional life. But macOS still can't run multiple copies of the same app, which means you have to keep logging in and out to switch profiles in an app.

Until Apple offers this functionality natively, there are a few third-party methods that you can rely on. This is how you can start multiple instances of the same app under macOS.

Why you might want to run multiple instances of a Mac program

There are several scenarios in which you might need to have more than one session of an app.

You can do this to have your work and personal accounts side by side in separate windows. Since you don't have to create a new user on your computer, you can easily multitask between your two profiles.

In addition, these methods are not necessarily designed to handle multiple accounts at the same time. They can also come in handy when, for example, you want to edit multiple sections or files in one app at the same time. In these scenarios you can log in twice with the same profile and have any number of windows of an app open.

Options for casual purposes

If you want to quickly manage your accounts, you might not have to go through all of the steps to create multiple instances of an app. Before diving into the more advanced solutions, make sure to check out these basic methods first.


1. Use the built-in multi-user functions of an app

To cater to people juggling multiple accounts, some apps have started to incorporate multi-user functionality. Without any external tools, you can add multiple accounts and access them in a shared or separate window.

In Google Chrome, you can set up a new user by clicking click on your profile picture in the upper right corner. Similarly, you can switch between workspaces using Slack. press the Add button in the left menu to configure a second account.

Another nifty multi-user app is Franz. With Franz, you can manage all of your instant messaging services like Telegram, WhatsApp and even Gmail in one place. You can also add multiple accounts for each service.

2. Enable fast user switching on a Mac

macOS has a handy feature for people looking for a more efficient way to switch between their accounts. Called Fast user change, it speeds up the process of switching accounts on your Mac. While this method does not allow you to create additional instances of an app, its use hardly requires any configuration on your part.

To get started, all you need is one more user on your Mac. You can create a new one from System settings > Users & groups if needed.

When you've done that, go to the Users & groups Side again. Click there Login options and activate the Show quick user change menu Opportunity.

Now you can click on your username in the menu bar and select another user to switch to this one immediately. When you return, your current windows and active apps will remain as you left them.

Related: How to split a user account into two separate accounts in macOS

If your Mac uses Touch ID, switching between user accounts is even faster because you only have the Touch identification Button.

3. Use the web app of a service

Often times, web apps are powerful enough to replace their native counterparts and offer functionality similar to the desktop versions. You can take advantage of this to effectively open multiple instances of the same app.

To install a web app from Google Chrome, go to the app's URL and sign in. click on Three point menu in the upper right corner and below More tools, Select create link. In the resulting menu, you can choose the Open as a window Option to open the web app in a separate window instead of a new tab.

Advanced user options

The above options are geared towards average user purposes and technically do not allow you to run multiple copies of a Mac app. If neither of those did the job for you, read on for more advanced methods.

4. Run multiple copies of an app (actually)

The only way to actually run multiple copies of an app on macOS is through a custom script. As it sounds, the process doesn't require any technical knowledge and is largely straightforward.

First, open the preinstalled Script editor Program on your Mac. The easiest way to find this is to open Spotlight with Command + Space and search for it right away.

When you start the Script Editor, you will see an empty document-like editing window. Here you first need to copy and paste the following line:

Execute shell script "open -n"

Next, find the app you want to clone in the Applications Folder. Drag and drop the symbol right in front of the second quotation mark. For example, if you selected Simplenote, you should have:

do shell script "open -n /Applications/Simplenote.app"

Press Command + K compile the script, which should take a second or two. Last press Command + S to save the file. Give it a name and choose its location (e.g. your Mac's Desktop Folder). Then choose above all application by doing File format Drop-down list. click Save on computer and you're done.

Navigate to the directory where you saved the file. If you double-click the icon, a new instance of the associated app will be started. You can repeat the action depending on how many copies you want.

Because these copies are instances, they are not available among other apps when switching between apps. You'll need to do this from the start every time you want to use your second account.

5. Install a virtual machine

The final and most in-depth method is to install a virtual machine on your Mac. Virtual machines let you run macOS or another operating system in a desktop app. They're primarily intended for developers, but you can also use them to separate your personal and business accounts.

Parallels is a popular option, but it's not free. Give VirtualBox a try if you want to do it without paying. Either option also makes it easy to run Windows on macOS.

Related: The Best Virtual Machine Apps for Mac (Great for Running Windows)

Mastery of app instances on your Mac

Until Apple offers an official option to launch multiple instances of the same app, these methods should be enough for you. But if you are new to setting up a virtual machine, none of these are ideal.

For even more Mac productivity, check out some great apps that create unified workspaces from the services you use every day.

5 Mac apps that create unified workspaces from all of your apps

If you're struggling to manage tasks on your Mac, check out these all-in-one workspace apps that combine all of your web and desktop apps.

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About the author

Shubham Agarwal
(136 published articles)

Shubham is based in Ahmedabad, India and is a freelance technology journalist. When he's not writing about the latest trends in the world of technology, he's either exploring a new city with his camera or playing the latest game on his PlayStation.

From Shubham Agarwal

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