iPhone App Minus App Store?


If I create an application on my Mac, is there any way I can get it to run on an iPhone without going through the app store?

It doesn't matter if the iPhone has to be jailbroken, as long as I can still run an application created using the official SDK. For reasons I won't get into, I can't have this program going through the app store.

This question is tagged with ios iphone

~ Asked on 2008-09-01 04:55:58

9 Answers


Official Developer Program

For a standard iPhone you'll need to pay the US$99/yr to be a member of the developer program. You can then use the adhoc system to install your application onto up to 100 devices. The developer program has the details but it involves adding UUIDs for each of the devices to your application package. UUIDs can be easiest retrieved using Ad Hoc Helper available from the App Store. For further details on this method, see Craig Hockenberry's Beta testing on iPhone 2.0 article

Jailbroken iPhone

For jailbroken iPhones, you can use the following method which I have personally tested using the AccelerometerGraph sample app on iPhone OS 3.0.

Create Self-Signed Certificate

First you'll need to create a self signed certificate and patch your iPhone SDK to allow the use of this certificate:

  1. Launch Keychain Access.app. With no items selected, from the Keychain menu select Certificate Assistant, then Create a Certificate.

    Name: iPhone Developer
    Certificate Type: Code Signing
    Let me override defaults: Yes

  2. Click Continue

    Validity: 3650 days

  3. Click Continue

  4. Blank out the Email address field.

  5. Click Continue until complete.

    You should see "This root certificate is not trusted". This is expected.

  6. Set the iPhone SDK to allow the self-signed certificate to be used:

    sudo /usr/bin/sed -i .bak 's/XCiPhoneOSCodeSignContext/XCCodeSignContext/' /Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Info.plist

    If you have Xcode open, restart it for this change to take effect.

Manual Deployment over WiFi

The following steps require openssh, and uikittools to be installed first. Replace jasoniphone.local with the hostname of the target device. Be sure to set your own password on both the mobile and root users after installing SSH.

To manually compile and install your application on the phone as a system app (bypassing Apple's installation system):

  1. Project, Set Active SDK, Device and Set Active Build Configuration, Release.

  2. Compile your project normally (using Build, not Build & Go).

  3. In the build/Release-iphoneos directory you will have an app bundle. Use your preferred method to transfer this to /Applications on the device.

    scp -r AccelerometerGraph.app [email protected]:/Applications/

  4. Let SpringBoard know the new application has been installed:

    ssh [email protected] uicache

    This only has to be done when you add or remove applications. Updated applications just need to be relaunched.

To make life easier for yourself during development, you can setup SSH key authentication and add these extra steps as a custom build step in your project.

Note that if you wish to remove the application later you cannot do so via the standard SpringBoard interface and you'll need to use SSH and update the SpringBoard:

ssh [email protected] rm -r /Applications/AccelerometerGraph.app &&
ssh [email protected] uicache

~ Answered on 2008-09-01 06:21:23


Yes, once you have joined the iPhone Developer Program, and paid Apple $99, you can provision your applications on up to 100 iOS devices.

~ Answered on 2008-09-01 05:16:40


  • Build your app
  • Upload to a crack site
  • (If you app is good enough) the crack version will be posted minutes later and ready for everyone to download ;-)

~ Answered on 2010-04-20 01:31:52


With the help of this post, I have made a script that will install via the app Installous for rapid deployment:

# compress application.
/bin/mkdir -p $CONFIGURATION_BUILD_DIR/Payload
/bin/cp iTunesCrap/logo_itunes.png $CONFIGURATION_BUILD_DIR/iTunesArtwork
/bin/cp iTunesCrap/iTunesMetadata.plist $CONFIGURATION_BUILD_DIR/iTunesMetadata.plist


# zip up the HelloWorld directory

/usr/bin/zip -r MyApp.ipa Payload iTunesArtwork iTunesMetadata.plist

What Is missing in the post referenced above, is the iTunesMetadata. Without this, Installous will not install apps correctly. Here is an example of an iTunesMetadata:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
    <string>Sunday, December 12, 2010</string>

Obviously, replace all instances of MyApp with the name of your app and MyCompany with the name of your company.

Basically, this will install on any jailbroken device with Installous installed. After it is set up, this results in very fast deployment, as it can be installed from anywhere, just upload it to your companies website, and download the file directly to the device, and copy / move it to ~/Documents/Installous/Downloads.

~ Answered on 2010-12-12 20:41:12


With the upcoming Xcode 7 it's now possible to install apps on your devices without an apple developer license, so now it is possible to skip the app store and you don't have to jailbreak your device.

Now everyone can get their app on their Apple device.

Xcode 7 and Swift now make it easier for everyone to build apps and run them directly on their Apple devices. Simply sign in with your Apple ID, and turn your idea into an app that you can touch on your iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch. Download Xcode 7 beta and try it yourself today. Program membership is not required.

Quoted from: https://developer.apple.com/xcode/


XCode 7 is now released:

Free On-Device Development Now everyone can run and test their own app on a device—for free. You can run and debug your own creations on a Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch without any fees, and no programs to join. All you need to do is enter your free Apple ID into Xcode. You can even use the same Apple ID you already use for the App Store or iTunes. Once you’ve perfected your app the Apple Developer Program can help you get it on the App Store.

See Launching Your App on Devices for detailed information about installing and running on devices.

~ Answered on 2015-08-25 12:50:14


It's worth noting that if you go the jailbroken route, it's possible (likely?) that an iPhone OS update would kill your ability to run these apps. I'd go the official route and pay the $99 to get authorized. In addition to not having to worry about your apps being clobbered, you also get the opportunity (should you choose) to release your apps on the store.

~ Answered on 2008-11-20 13:02:38


After copying the the app to the iPhone in the way described by @Jason Weathered, make sure to "chmod +x" of the app, otherwise it won't run.

~ Answered on 2011-07-22 06:39:31


*Changes/Notes to make this work for Xcode 3.2.1 and iPhone SDK 3.1.2

Manual Deployment over WiFi

2) Be sure to restart Xcode after modifying the Info.plist

3) The "uicache" command is not found, using killall -HUP SpringBoard worked fine for me.

Other then that, I can confirm this works fine.

Mac users, using PwnageTool 3.1.4 worked great for Jailbreaking (DL via torrent).

~ Answered on 2010-01-05 22:42:58


If you patch /Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Info.plist and then try to debug a application running on the device using a real development provisionen profile from Apple it will probably not work. Symptoms are weird error messages from com.apple.debugserver and that you can use any bundle identifier without getting a error when building in Xcode. The solution is to restore Info.plist.

~ Answered on 2010-04-20 01:19:43

Most Viewed Questions: