launch iOS apps iOS devices from the command line (Xcode 7)
Last updated 4 months ago by gabebear .
GPLv3 · Repository · Bugs · Original npm · Tarball · package.json
$ cnpm install ios-deploy 
SYNC missed versions from official npm registry.

Build Status


Install and debug iOS apps from the command line. Designed to work on un-jailbroken devices.


  • Mac OS X. Tested on 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra, iOS 9.0 and iOS 10.0
  • You need to have a valid iOS Development certificate installed.
  • Xcode 7 or greater should be installed (NOT just Command Line Tools!)


See our milestones.


The 1.x branch has been archived (renamed for now), all development is to be on the master branch for simplicity, since the planned 2.x development (break out commands into their own files) has been abandoned for now.


ios-deploy installation is made simple using the node.js package manager. If you use Homebrew, install node.js:

brew install node

Now install ios-deploy with the node.js package manager:

npm install -g ios-deploy

To build from source:


This will build ios-deploy into the build/Release folder.



npm install && npm test

OS X 10.11 El Capitan or greater

If you are not using a node version manager like nvm or n, you may have to do either of these three things below when under El Capitan:

  1. Add the --unsafe-perm=true flag when installing ios-deploy
  2. Add the --allow-root flag when installing ios-deploy
  3. Ensure the nobody user has write access to /usr/local/lib/node_modules/ios-deploy/ios-deploy


Usage: ios-deploy [OPTION]...
    -d, --debug                  launch the app in lldb after installation
    -i, --id <device_id>         the id of the device to connect to
    -c, --detect                 only detect if the device is connected
    -b, --bundle <>    the path to the app bundle to be installed
    -a, --args <args>            command line arguments to pass to the app when launching it
    -s, --envs <envs>            environment variables, space separated key-value pairs, to pass to the app when launching it
    -t, --timeout <timeout>      number of seconds to wait for a device to be connected
    -u, --unbuffered             don't buffer stdout
    -n, --nostart                do not start the app when debugging
    -I, --noninteractive         start in non interactive mode (quit when app crashes or exits)
    -L, --justlaunch             just launch the app and exit lldb
    -v, --verbose                enable verbose output
    -m, --noinstall              directly start debugging without app install (-d not required)
    -p, --port <number>          port used for device, default: dynamic
    -r, --uninstall              uninstall the app before install (do not use with -m; app cache and data are cleared) 
    -9, --uninstall_only         uninstall the app ONLY. Use only with -1 <bundle_id> 
    -1, --bundle_id <bundle id>  specify bundle id for list and upload
    -l, --list[=<dir>]           list all app files or the specified directory
    -o, --upload <file>          upload file
    -w, --download[=<path>]      download app tree or the specified file/directory
    -2, --to <target pathname>   use together with up/download file/tree. specify target
    -D, --mkdir <dir>            make directory on device
    -R, --rm <path>              remove file or directory on device (directories must be empty)
    -V, --version                print the executable version 
    -e, --exists                 check if the app with given bundle_id is installed or not 
    -B, --list_bundle_id         list bundle_id 
    -W, --no-wifi                ignore wifi devices
    -O, --output <file>          write stdout and stderr to this file
    --detect_deadlocks <sec>     start printing backtraces for all threads periodically after specific amount of seconds


The commands below assume that you have an app called with bundle id Substitute where necessary.

// deploy and debug your app to a connected device
ios-deploy --debug --bundle

// deploy, debug and pass environment variables to a connected device
ios-deploy --debug --envs DYLD_PRINT_STATISTICS=1 --bundle

// deploy and debug your app to a connected device, skipping any wi-fi connection (use USB)
ios-deploy --debug --bundle --no-wifi

// deploy and launch your app to a connected device, but quit the debugger after
ios-deploy --justlaunch --debug --bundle

// deploy and launch your app to a connected device, quit when app crashes or exits
ios-deploy --noninteractive --debug --bundle

// Upload a file to your app's Documents folder
ios-deploy --bundle_id '' --upload test.txt --to Documents/test.txt

// Download your app's Documents, Library and tmp folders
ios-deploy --bundle_id '' --download --to MyDestinationFolder

// List the contents of your app's Documents, Library and tmp folders
ios-deploy --bundle_id '' --list

// deploy and debug your app to a connected device, uninstall the app first
ios-deploy --uninstall --debug --bundle

// check whether an app by bundle id exists on the device (check return code `echo $?`)
ios-deploy --exists --bundle_id

// Download the Documents directory of the app *only*
ios-deploy --download=/Documents --bundle_id --to ./my_download_location

// List ids and names of connected devices
ios-deploy -c

// Uninstall an app
ios-deploy --uninstall_only --bundle_id

// list all bundle ids of all apps on your device
ios-deploy --list_bundle_id


The included represents the minimum required to get code running on iOS.

  • make will generate the executable. If it doesn't compile, modify IOS_SDK_VERSION in the Makefile.
  • make debug will install and launch a LLDB session.


  • --detect_deadlocks can help to identify an exact state of application's threads in case of a deadlock. It works like this: The user specifies the amount of time ios-deploy runs the app as usual. When the timeout is elapsed ios-deploy starts to print call-stacks of all threads every 5 seconds and the app keeps running. Comparing threads' call-stacks between each other helps to identify the threads which were stuck.


ios-deploy is available under the provisions of the GNU General Public License, version 3 (or later), available here:

Error codes used for error messages were taken from SDMMobileDevice framework, originally reverse engineered by Sam Marshall. SDMMobileDevice is distributed under BSD 3-Clause license and is available here:

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