How can I install a .ipa file to my iPhone simulator


I have an iphone simulator running on my Mac.

I have a .ipa file, can you please tell me how can I install it on the simulator?

9/17/2011 10:10:17 AM

Accepted Answer

You can't. If it was downloaded via the iTunes store it was built for a different processor and won't work in the simulator.

2/5/2009 7:32:41 PM

In Xcode 6+ and iOS8+ you can do the simple steps below

  1. Paste .app file on desktop.
  2. Open terminal and paste the commands below:

    cd desktop

    xcrun simctl install booted

  3. Open iPhone simulator and click on app and use

For versions below iOS 8, do the following simple steps.

Note: You'll want to make sure that your app is built for all architectures, the Simulator is x386 in the Build Settings and Build Active Architecture Only set to No.

  1. Path: Library->Application Support->iPhone Simulator->7.1 (or another version if you need it)->Applications
  2. Create a new folder with the name of the app
  3. Go inside the folder and place the .app file here.

For Xcode 9.4.1 and latest Simulators:

Hope my answer is getting seen down here as this took me a while to figure out but I just got it working.

First of all you need to build and run the App on your simulator. Then you open the Activity Monitor. Double click the name of your App to find its content.

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In the next screen open the Open Files and Ports tab and find the line with

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Copy the link but make sure to stop at the Do not copy the path following it.

Control click onto the finder icon and select Go to folder.

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Paste the path and click enter. You will see your file. Copy it to the Desktop and zip it. Move it to your desired 2nd computer and unzip the file. Build a random project to have a simulator open.

Lastly: Literally drag and drop the App from your Desktop into your Simulator. You will see the install and the App opens and does not crash.

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You cannot run an ipa file in the simulator because the ipa file is compiled for a phone's ARM architecture, not the simulator's x86 architecture.

However, you can extract an app installed in a local simulator, send it to someone else, and have them copy it to the simulator on their machine.

In terminal, type:

open ~/Library/Application\ Support/iPhone\ Simulator/*/Applications

This will open all the applications folders of all the simulators you have installed. Each of the applications will be in a folder with a random hexadecimal name. You can work out which is your application by looking inside each of them. Once you have found out which one you want, right click it and choose "Compress ..." and it will make a zip file that you can easily copy to another computer and unzip to a similar location.


UPDATE: For Xcode 8.0+ you need to follow below Steps:

  1. Download application from iTunes
  2. Select downloaded app, right click show in finder
  3. Copy .ipa file to Desktop, rename it to .zip file
  4. Extract that .zip file and you will get directory with application name
  5. Check that directory you will find app file in Payload folder, copy this app file

  6. Go to ~/Library/Developer/CoreSimulator/Devices

FYI: Library folder is hidden by default in mac, you can see hidden file using below command.

defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES;
killall Finder /System/Library/CoreServices/

Now here you'll see many directories with long hexadecimal names, these all are simulators.

To find your desired simulator, sort these directories using "Arranged By > Date Modified".

Select that simulator file and go to below location.

  1. <HEXADECIMAL-SIMULATOR-STRING>/data/Containers/Bundle/Application/
  2. Create new folder name with <download-app-name> and paste app file in that folder
  3. Open Terminal and run below command to install this application

    xcrun simctl install booted <APP_FILE_PATH>

Example <APP_FILE_PATH> will be looks like below:


First of all, IPAs usually only have ARM slices because the App Store does not currently accept Simulator slices in uploads.

Secondly, as of Xcode 8.3 you can drag & drop a .app bundle into the Simulator window and it will be installed. You can find the app in your build products directory ~/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/projectname-xyzzyabcdefg/Build/Products/Debug-iphonesimulator if you want to save it or distribute it to other people.

To install from the command line use xcrun simctl install <device> <path>.

device can be the device UUID, its name, or booted which means the currently booted device.


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