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One of the big advantages of the new Macs with Apple Silicon M1 and M2 chips is that you can finally run iPad and iPhone apps on your Mac without the need for any emulation software.

That’s because the M1/M2 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.

Even better, if you’ve purchased an app on your iPad or iPhone, you can download it for free on your M1 or M2 Mac.

For Netflix users that can’t watch Netflix offline on a Mac this is great news.

However, the current situation for running iOS apps on a Mac isn’t quite as straightforward as it should be as we explain here.

How To Run iOS Apps on a Mac

In many cases, you can simply search the Mac App Store for the app or game you want to play on your M1/M2 Mac and then select iPad and iPhone when the results appear.

run iphone ipad apps mac

However, not all developers (such as Netflix and Hulu) allow iOS apps to also be available to M1/M2 Macs users.

In these cases, there is still a way to install iPhone and iPad apps on your Apple Silicon M1 or M2 Mac.

To do this you’ll of course need a new M1 or M2 Mac and a clever app called iMazing which allows you to manage apps on macOS that you’ve downloaded on iOS devices.

This is sometimes referred to as “sideloading” iOS apps on M1 and M2 Macs.

There are obviously a few usability differences compared to using the apps on a touch screen but in general, you can use the apps on macOS just as if you were using them on your iPad or iPhone.

Important Note: Using iMazing to run iOS apps on M1 and M2 Macs only works on macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier. It does not work in macOS 11.3 or later which includes Monterey.

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”.

So please ensure that you are running macOS Big Sur 11.2.3 or earlier to run iOS apps on an M1 or M2 Mac using iMazing.

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 M1/M2 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 run iOS apps on macOS was not originally one of iMazing’s features but it’s just a happy coincidence that this works with the new M1/M2 Macs.

It’s possible that the App Store may block apps like iMazing from doing this in future but at the moment it works perfectly well.

iMazing is besides well worth having as an alternative to using iTunes to manage your iPad or iPhone.

About The Author

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5 Responses

  1. WILLIAM BUTLER

    FYI

    The iPad version of Netflix is prevented from installing on M1 Mac Mini and displays the following:

    “Unable to Install “Netflix” This application cannot be installed because the developer did not intend for it to run on this platform.”

    This is as of 09/10/2021 with the most recent macOS update to Big Sur.

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      Yes unfortunately Apple removed the option to sideload apps onto M1 Macs as of macOS Big Sur 11.3 onwards. It still works on macOS 11.2.3 or earlier.

      Reply
  2. Murali Kavitarkika

    I have old Macbook Pro of 2021. Operating with Catalina 10.15.7. How do I downloas Iphone app on to my macbook, since mine is not M!

    Reply
  3. Bristle

    This no longer works for Apps that the developer has marked as not to be run on macOS

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      Yes as stated, it’s up to the developer whether they want to allow their iOS apps to run on macOS too. For those that don’t, using iMazing may also work.

      Reply

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