4 Ways to Fix Cannot install from App Store. “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” Error

One of the best things about Macs is the range of free apps that come pre-installed. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t download and install other applications from time to time. It should be easy — like most Apple tasks — but that isn’t always the case.

Mac users have found that installing apps from the Mac App Store has become a lot more complicated. Several users have complained about getting the “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” error in Mac. This error is just one of the many bugs that have been plaguing the newly released macOS Big Sur.

What is the Cannot install from App Store. “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” Error?

The error appears when users are trying to download any application in the App Store. There are reports saying that the error also happens when downloading updates for specific apps from the App Store. This can happen to any app, but most of the reports mentioned WhatsApp and Slack.

When the download is initiated, whether via updates or app installation, the Cannot install from App Store. “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” error pops on the screen. With the release of macOS Big Sur, a surge in the number of incidence of this error has been noticed. However, this error is not unique to Big Sur. There have been previous reports about the same error appearing in Mojave and Catalina.

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This error basically prevents the installation and updating of apps on macOS, which can be very frustrating for the affected users.

What Causes “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” Error After Updating to Big Sur?

Just like any other major updates, macOS Big Sur is far from perfect, considering that it has been only a month since it has been released. The current version is full of bugs and it will take some time for Apple to sort everything out. So instead of relying on Apple to release an official fix, Mac users can only help each other out in looking for a working solution for this error.

And the first step you need to take is to determine the cause of the Cannot install from App Store. “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” error. The main reason why this error occurs is because of the upgrade itself. The upgrade to Big Sur must have messed with the App Store settings and caused this error to appear.

It is also possible that the apps that you were having problems with are outdated so they are having trouble running smoothly with the new OS. Incompatibility issues are common in new software updates. Updating the apps should be enough to resolve this error. But if you are having issues with the update process itself, then you need to find another workaround to fix this.

How to Fix “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” Error in Mac

If you’re getting this error after updating to Big Sur, here are a few things you need to check first to make the troubleshooting a lot smoother:

  • Check your internet connection. Are you able to connect to your Wi-Fi and do you have a strong signal via the network? Are other Apple devices able to connect to this Wi-Fi and access the App Store? Check using other devices.
  • Check Apple Server System status for Mac App Store. There are often times when Apple is performing maintenance activities with the Mac app store and other related servers. Before you make any changes to your MacBook settings to deal with the app store issues, check the Apple System status page to make sure that the ‘Mac App Store’ has a green icon next to it.
  • Double-check your Apple ID credentials. Are you using the right Apple ID to access the app store? This is a check item for readers who tend to use multiple Apple IDs. Make sure that you are using the right Apple ID.
  • Optimize your Mac. Close unnecessary apps or processes running in the background. Use a Mac optimizer to make sure your computer is running in peak condition.

Done with the basics? If you’re still getting the “A server with the specified hostname could not be found” error in Mac after doing the above steps, then try the following:

Solution 1: Use Safari to Log into Your Apple ID.

If apps aren’t downloading from the App Store, the issue might be related to your browser. Logging into your Apple ID using the Safari browser might help resolve the error. After logging in, check the App Store if the issue has been resolved.

Solution 2: Sign Out of the App Store and Use the Terminal.

Sometimes there might be a glitch with your system, and in order to fix it, you need to run a couple of commands from the Terminal. To do that, you just need to follow these steps:

  1. Sign out of the App Store and close it completely.
  2. Go to Applications/Utility and start the Terminal.
  3. Now run the following command:
    defaults write com.apple.appstore.commerce Storefront -string “$(defaults read com.apple.appstore.commerce Storefront | sed s/,8/,13/)”
  4. Now sign into the App Store and restart your Mac.

After your MacBook restarts, check if the problem is still there.

Solution 3: Enable the Debug menu in the App Store.

Another thing you can try is to turn on Debug mode by following the steps here:

  1. Start the Terminal and run the following command: defaults write com.apple.appstore ShowDebugMenu -bool true
  2. Now start the App Store.
  3. Go to the Debug menu and select the following options:
    • Cache Buster
    • Clear Cookies
    • Reset App

Restart your Mac and see if you can now download the apps.

Solution 4: End the Appstoreagent Process.

If App Store isn’t downloading apps on your MacBook, there might be a glitch with the appstoreagent process. To fix the problem, you can end this process by doing the following:

  1. Navigate to Applications > Utilities.
  2. Now start Activity Monitor.
  3. Now locate the appstoreagent process and end it.

After doing that, the download should start immediately.

Other Things You Can Try

  • Sign out of your Apple ID from System Preferences > Apple Account.
  • Sign out of Apple Music by going to Account > Sign Out from the menu bar.
  • Try downloading the apps or updates from a different user account.
  • Update macOS Big Sur to the latest version.
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