I've seen a number of neat iPhone apps recently that I'd like to use. In particular, there are a number of neat musical apps (metronome, tuner, etc.) that seem highly rated, and have no real Mac equivalent. I don't have a recent iPod/iPhone/iPad (I don't need portability or a phone and it seems silly to pay hundreds of dollars to run $15 worth of apps), but I do have an Intel (C2D) Mac.

Can the iPhone dev simulator, or any other emulator, download and run iPhone App Store apps?


5 Answers 5


AFAIK, iPhone simulator doesn't download an application from the App Store; it's just used to debug an iOS application you are developing.

  • You can drag and drop apps into the simulator, but it needs proper signing. Also, you can re-sign apps yourself, but you need a development certificate from Apple which costs $100 bucks.
    – Moshe
    Oct 7, 2010 at 23:34
  • 3
    The iPhone Simulator runs on a Mac using the processor instruction set native to the machine, either Intel or PowerPC. iPhone apps are compiled to be run on ARM devices. It's as impossible to run these apps on a Mac as it is to run Windows apps on an iPad, unfortunately.
    – wjl
    Jul 8, 2011 at 8:37

If you are developing iOS apps in XCode, you can use the iPhone or iPad emulator to run your app, but there is no way to run a precompiled app (such as from the app store)


Possible? Yes, but...currently the only way to run iOS apps on a Mac is via the iPhone/iPad Simulator (available in the iOS SDK)...AND you need the source code for the app you want to run.

  • 1
    I'd love to see a developer's tweet that goes: "Some twit tried to get me to send them the source code for my app." And, of course, the resulting comments. That would take iron balls to ask.
    – Tasuret
    Mar 25, 2011 at 20:38

Unfortunately the iPhone/iPad simulator is only available as part of the dev tools, and does not contain any syncing abilities with iTunes. It also doesn't have an app store app, so you can't buy applications from within the simulator.

As it's primary use is for developers to test their apps without the actual hardware you will most likely never see the features you want added to the simulator.


No it wouldn't be possible, unless somebody came a up with an iOS emulator that would let you run ARM based binaries on your Intel based Mac/PC. Basically the same as what they have done with reverse engineering the Super Nintendo and the resultant emulators that have been written to emulate Super Nintendo roms. No doubt someone will do it one day many years from now.

  • Or maybe just a year or two: kickstarter.com/projects/cmwdotme/… Feb 9, 2013 at 16:29
  • Better link: iemu.org Feb 9, 2013 at 16:36
  • Looks like that project was replaced with virtur.al, also made by the same author. Even further, that project was bought by Citrix, so it may be possible in the future.
    – Spotlight
    Jul 26, 2015 at 2:53
  • @Spotlight, What happened to it?
    – Pacerier
    Feb 12, 2018 at 21:48
  • @Pacerier The owner seems to have left what Citrix bought and founded another qemu based emulation company. I haven't followed it too closely but it doesn't look like a source release is planned :(
    – Spotlight
    Feb 13, 2018 at 0:30

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