Extract and Explore an iOS App in Mac OS X

Apr 7, 2011 - 8 Comments

You can find some interesting things in iOS apps that you’ve downloaded, all you need to do is extract the file from its container and then you’re free to browse around like any other application package. Here is how to do this:

Extract and explore contents of iOS apps within Mac OS X

We’ll use iBooks.app as an example:

  • Launch iTunes and click on “Apps”
  • Select the app you want to extract and right-click on it, select “Show in Finder”

  • You’ll see an .ipa file in the Finder, make a copy of that file to the desktop by holding down Option and dragging it there
  • Rename the .ipa file extension to .zip (in this case, iBooks.ipa to iBooks.zip), ignore the warning and click to confirm the .zip extension

  • Now double-click on the .zip file to extract it’s contents, it will open like any standard archive
  • Open the newly extracted directory and open “Payload” within that
  • Right-click on the app name (iBooks.app) and select “Show Package Contents”
  • Explore the contents of the iOS app, it’ll look like the screenshot at the very top of this post showing AngryBirds Lite

You can find a lot of interesting stuff in these iOS apps and the process is the same regardless of an app being for iPhone or iPad, so have fun. Just be sure to make a backup so you don’t mess up the app, although you can always redownload it if you do.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. JDK says:

    For windows, you CAN do this, or, use 7-zip (Which is what I did)

  2. Ian says:

    This should be fun. I think if you make too many changes though it breaks code signing and you won’t be able to put the modified app back on your phone.

  3. […] any difficulty in following the above steps then feel free to ask in the comment section below. [Via] […]

  4. kewl says:

    hi, i tried to explore fruit ninja, however they have this file call archive.bin, which seems very large. how do i explore through this file ?

  5. John says:

    Am I allowed to use the code of other apps to create my own app?

  6. […] the entire reusable font file inside your app’s bundle – which means that anyone who knows how to unzip an IPA file can grab it once they’ve purchased your app. This isn’t something that font foundries […]

  7. Dheeraj says:

    i have followed your process but did not get any solution can you help me step by step .

    Thanks in advance

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