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run ios apps on mac - cover

How to Run iOS Apps & Games On a Mac in 2024 (inc. Apple Silicon & Sonoma)

One of the big advantages of the new Apple Silicon Macs such is that you can finally run iPad and iPhone apps on your Mac too.

That’s because the M1, M2 and M3 chips in the latest generation of Macs are exactly the same as those Apple uses in iPads and iPhones.

This means that in theory, you should be able to use apps such as Netflix, Instagram and Gmail on your Mac for the first time.

However, the current situation for running iOS apps on a Mac isn’t quite as straightforward as it should be anymore due to changes made by Apple in 2021.

Since macOS Big Sur, Apple disabled sideloading of iOS IPA apps on Apple Silicon Macs which means that methods 2 and 3 only work if you’re running macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier.

If you’re not sure about this, go to the Apple logo in the top left of your Mac and select “About this Mac…” to see exactly which version of macOS you are using.

That leaves PlayCover as currently the only way to run iOS apps on Apple Silicon Macs unless Apple changes its policy on sideloading from iOS to macOS.

1. PlayCover

playcover for mac

Using PlayCover is currently the only way to run iOS apps on Apple Silicon Macs.

PlayCover is a free source project that “wraps” iOS apps to imitate an iPad on your Mac.

PlayCover only works on the latest versions of macOS Sonoma, Ventura and Monterey – it does not work on older versions of macOS such as Big Sur.

PlayCover even allows you to map custom keyboard touch controls to your Mac’s keyboard.

While PlayCover works with most games and apps, not all are supported and work properly.

For example, any games that use anti-cheat software such as Vanguard will not work on Playcover.

With this in mind, here’s how to use iOS apps and games on Apple Silicon Macs  with PlayCover.

  • Download PlayCover and double click on the DMG file.
  • Drag PlayCover into your Applications folder.

ios games apps m1 mac - playcover

  • Double click on the PlayCover app to open it or Ctrl-click on it and select “Open”.

ios apple silcion mac - playcover install

  • Click “Open” when macOS warns you whether you want to open it.

playcover macos open app

  • When you first run PlayCover you may have to install Xcode Command Line Tools if you’ve never installed it before.

playcover m1 mac xcode

  • To complete the installation you need to authenticate with either Touch ID or your password on your Mac.

script macos touch id password playcover

  • You must then download what’s called the decrypted IPA file for your the iOS application you want to run on your Mac. These are only available from third party sites such as Decrypt and ARM Converter. PlayCover warns that it cannot verify the safety of these downloads so you download them at your own risk. For example, if you search for Netflix in Decrypt you are given the option to download the Netflix IPA file by clicking on Download Latest.

netflix download ipa playcover

  • You then simply drag and drop the decrypted IPA file into PlayCover to add it to your PlayCover App Library. You can then double click on the the ISO app or game on your Mac.

playcover for mac - app library

2. macOS Sideloading (Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier only)

Initially when the first M1 chip Macs were released in 2020, Apple allowed users to “sideload” iOS apps into macOS via the Mac App Store.

You simply had to search the Mac App Store for the app or game you want to play on your M1/M2/M3 Mac and then select “iPad and iPhone Apps” when the results appear.

run iphone ipad apps mac

Not all developers (such as Netflix and Hulu) allowed iOS apps to be sideloaded into Apple Silicon Macs this way but many did.

However on January 19th 2021 Apple started disabling this feature in the Mac App Store meaning it is no longer possible to sideload apps into macOS.

As of macOS 11.3 Big Sur or later sideloading was completely disabled from the Mac App Store.

If you’re still running Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier however, you can still sideload iOS games and apps onto your Mac this way.

The good news is, there are still ways to install iPhone and iPad apps on your Apple Silicon Mac using third party software.

3. iMazing (Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier only)

imazing for mac

iMazing is an iOS management software that allows you to transfer files easily from iPhone, iPad and iPods to Macs or PCs.

iMazing was finally updated in 2024 to work on the latest versions of macOS including Ventura and Sonoma as before that, as previously, it only worked with Big Sur or earlier.

However, the sideloading feature of iMazing only allows you to run iOS apps on Apple Silicon Macs running macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier. It does not work on later versions of macOS including Ventura and Sonoma.

If you try to use iMazing on macOS 11.3 or later you will receive the error message “This application cannot be installed because the developer did not intend for it to run on this platform”.

You must also ensure that your Mac and iOS device are using the same Apple ID in order for this to work.

With this in mind, follow these instructions to run iPad and iPhone apps on your Mac even if they’re not appearing as available in the Mac App Store.

  1. Download and install iMazing.
  2. Plugin your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with iMazing running
  3. Select your iPad or iPhone in the left hand column in iMazing
  4. Click on the “Apps” icon for the iPad or iPhone
  5. Click “Manage Apps” on the right of the screen

install ios apps on mac - imazing

  1. Choose “Library” in the Manage Apps screen
  2. Click the cloud icon next to the iOS app you want to use (such as Instagram) to download it
  3. Right-click on the app and select “Export IPA”

You now simply download and run the IPA app on your Apple Silicon Mac and it will install automatically.

iMazing will require your App Store password to do this but the developer DigiDNA assures that your password never leaves your computer and as a Swiss based company, has a very strict privacy policy.

There is another way to extract IPAs using Apple Configurator app but it’s far more complicated than using iMazing.

Of course the main problem is that Macs don’t have touch screens like iOS devices do. To get round this there are “Touch Alternatives” in macOS that you can use to substitute touchscreen actions.

install ios apps mac - touch alternatives

The ability to sideload iOS apps on macOS was not originally one of iMazing’s features but it’s just a happy coincidence that this works with Apple Silicon Macs running Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier.

It’s just a shame this method no longer works on the latest versions of macOS on Apple Silicon Macs.

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