What is installd and why is this process running on my Mac?

If you look into the Activity indicator Have you noticed the “installd” process on your Apple Mac? Then you might be wondering what this is and why macOS needs this background process. In this guide you will find the information you need to answer your questions about installd. Right from the start I can also reassure you: it isn't malicious software, but a completely normal part of the operating system of your Apple computer.

What does the installd process actually do on the Apple Mac? And what can you do if it leads to high CPU or RAM load without any recognizable app store processes? You can find answers to these and other questions in this guide.
What does the installd process actually do on the Apple Mac? And what can you do if it leads to high CPU or RAM load without any recognizable app store processes? You can find answers to these and other questions in this guide.

The installd process on the Mac: Help for package installations from the App Store

According to the official Apple definition, macOS uses the installd background process to perform package installations. It works with other processes for more specific individual tasks, such as installer, pkgutil and system_installd. This directly indicates that the installd process takes care of program installation from .pkg files. But it's less about those from the web and more about those from the Mac App Store. These are installed without having to mount them and operate them manually.

The name also reveals that it is one Daemon acts. Because it can be broken down into “install” for installing and “d” for daemon. A daemon is a process automatically started by the system that independently takes over tasks assigned to it and thus makes using the computer more comfortable. The advantage of installd is that you don't have to manually mount .pkg packages from the App Store, unzip them, move them into program directories and create additional folders or .plist files. Everything is automated.

installd also takes care of updates and uninstallation

You can't just download and install individual apps via the Mac App Store. The updates offered for installed programs are also managed via Apple's software department store. Last but not least, you can also initiate the uninstallation of apps here. All of these things also have to do with the installd process and the macOS background processes associated with it. For example, there is the uninstalld process, a daemon for uninstalling files and programs. Like installd, it is managed by the most basic macOS process, launchd.

Additional package managers for program installation

The installd process and the macOS processes that work with it primarily handle the installation of software from the Mac App Store. However, there are also programs offered in other ways that cannot be handled by installd. This is where third-party package managers like “Homebrew” come into play. Homebrew helps with that Port (the operating system's command line) to extend commands for downloading and installing apps from the Internet. This makes installing programs quicker and easier than downloading from GitHub or developer websites.

Or like it is on the official website means: “Homebrew installs stuff that you need but that Apple doesn’t provide.” Homebrew installs programs that you select using their corresponding terminal commands in a folder you specify. The system expansion also helps you create your own packages if you want to offer apps yourself this way. People who are familiar with Git and Ruby can especially benefit from this. But if you just want to select and install apps, you can also do that with Homebrew - without any additional programming knowledge.

Why does installd use so much CPU and memory?

During regular Apple Mac operation, installd and the processes that work with it should not create a large system load. This means that they usually do not require as much power from the processor (CPU) or space in the main memory (RAM). However, if installd leads to a large CPU load or maxes out the RAM, there can be various reasons:

  • A large program or game from the App Store is installed
  • An update from an app from the App Store is downloaded/installed
  • A large amount of software is uninstalled from the App Store

Especially when an entire suite receives an update, this can lead to longer-lasting resource usage. So is there an iWork update for Pages, Numbers and Keynote, then all three programs will be updated, which may take a while. The same applies to automatic updates of those updated together Serif apps Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer and Affinity Publisher. Temporarily it is normal for installd and related processes to use more CPU and RAM.

If no downloads, installations, updates or uninstallations can be detected and installd still causes a high CPU or RAM load, then restarting the Mac can help. Turning the Mac off and on reloads the operating system and resolves any potential bugs or other code issues. Possibly incorrect download and installation processes will also be carried out again (and hopefully correctly this time).

Summary: installd is a completely normal macOS process

With installd, you can use the Apple Mac as a convenient way to easily install and otherwise manage apps via the Mac App Store. To do this, the daemon described works together with other background processes, each of which takes on its own individual tasks. So it only takes a few clicks from the user instead of manually distributing files in the system to get a program running or updated. System extensions are available to simplify installation processes outside of the App Store. Apps can also be downloaded from GitHub or developer websites.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.