How to run iPhone and iPad apps on Apple silicon Mac, even if the app is unavailable in Mac App Store

Do you own an Apple silicon Mac and wish to run iOS or iPadOS apps on it? This tutorial shows you two easy ways to use iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac.

iPhone and MacBook kept on a table


In November 2020, Apple released new Macs with Apple silicon (M1 chip). These ARM-based SoC (System on Chip) are designed by Apple thanks to their years of experience with in-house A-series chips for iPhone and iPad.

Due to the foundational similarity between A-series iPhone and iPad chips and Apple silicon (M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, M1 Ultra, and their successors), Macs can run apps written for iPhone and iPad. Apple even has iPad models with an M1 chip, and these tablets run all iPadOS apps like a pro machine!

Related: Everything you need to know about Apple’s new M1 Ultra chip

Macs that support running iPhone and iPad apps

You can run iPhone or iPad apps on any Mac with an Apple silicon. This includes:

  • MacBook Air (M1, 2020, 13-inch)
  • MacBook Pro (M1, 2020, 13-inch)
  • Mac Mini (M1, 2020)
  • iMac (M1, 2021, 24-inch)
  • MacBook Pro (M1 Pro or M1 Max, 2021, 14-inch)
  • MacBook Pro (M1 Pro or M1 Max, 2021, 16-inch)
  • Mac Studio (M1 Max or M1 Ultra, 2022)

To check if your Mac has Apple silicon or not, click  and choose About This Mac. In the Overview section, if it says the word Chip followed by the name of the chip, then you have a Mac with Apple silicon. In case you have an Intel-based Mac, it will say the word Processor followed by the name of the Intel processor.

Apple silicon Mac

Related: How to distinguish between Apple silicon and Intel apps on your Mac

How to use iPhone and iPad apps on Mac

Given the huge popularity of iPhones and iPads, many apps are written for them as developers have the potential to reach more users. Mac has a comparatively smaller userbase, and thus the Mac App Store is lackluster compared to the iOS App Store.

Often you won’t find many helpful apps on the Mac App Store. But if you already love an app on your iPhone or iPad, now you can run the same on your Mac, and it feels right at home.

Here are two ways to use iOS and iPadOS apps on a macOS computer.

1. Use the App Store

Simply launch the Mac App Store on your Apple silicon Mac, hit the search bar in the top-left corner, and search for an app. Results will default to Mac apps, but you can click the “iPhone & iPad Apps” filter to see results in that category. From here, click GET or the download arrow to install the iOS app on your Mac. Once the app is downloaded and installed, open it, and it will run on your M1 Mac.

iPhone and iPad Apps on Mac App Store

Further, iPhone and iPad apps that work on Apple silicon Macs have the label Designed for iPhone or Designed for iPad inside the Mac App Store.

Designed for iPad app on Mac App Store

Plus, your free or paid apps downloaded previously on your iPhone and iPad that can work on your Mac (even if not verified) are listed in your Mac App Store’s purchased section. To access these, click your name from the lower left of the Mac App Store and click iPhone & iPad Apps on the Account page. Click the download arrow to get previously purchased compatible iOS or iPadOS app on your Mac.

See your purchased iPhone and iPad apps on Mac App Store

Note: Not all iOS apps feel at home on Apple Silicon Macs, but Apple has provided this feature as a convenience to those who would like to run iOS apps that haven’t been ported to the Mac. And if you dislike Electron apps that feel out of place, like Slack, their iPhone and iPad counterparts may actually run better on your M1-powered Mac.

iPhone apps Apple Silicon Macs - Among Us and Netflix running on an M1 Mac
The iOS app HBO Max and the game Among Us running on an Apple Silicon Mac

On top of that, you can even run native iOS apps that are unavailable on macOS, like Inshot video editor, for example. As long as a developer has flagged their iOS app to also appear in the Mac App Store, and you have previously purchased that app on your iPhone and iPad, you can re-download it to your M1-powered Mac at no additional charge.

But what about iOS apps that are unavailable on the Mac App Store? Enter iMazing!

2. Use iMazing and IPA files

As it turns out, macOS Big Sur and later like macOS Monterey runs iOS apps on M1-powered Macs from the same IPA (iOS App Store Package) file that your iPhone or iPad downloads from the App Store.

An .ipa file is an archive that stores an app’s binary along with other assets (you can see what’s inside an .ipa file by saving it to your Mac, changing its extension to .zip, and unzipping it).

IPA files used to be stored in an unencrypted iTunes backup when we were syncing our iOS devices with iTunes, but that’s no longer the case.

Thankfully, you can use the awesome iMazing app to download apps installed on your iOS device directly from the App Store.

A statement from iMazing

According to DigiDNA (iMazing’s parent company) CEO Gregorio Zanon, this isn’t something they put together to deliberately hack Apple’s system. It’s a legitimate feature of iMazing, which packs dozens of other features that power iOS backup and management workflows.

iPhone apps Apple Silicon Macs
iMazing lets you download an iOS app’s .ipa file to your Mac

Here’s what an iMazing representative told The Verge about the matter:

App management has been available in iMazing since November 2017. We did not do any particular adjustments to ensure that iOS apps exported from iMazing’s library would run on Apple Silicon Macs. It turns out that when developers choose whether or not to include their mobile app on the Mac App Store, no change is made to the app itself – the setting is purely a distribution toggle.

Hundreds of thousands of iMazing users depend on our app management to save bandwidth. Downloading an IPA just once and installing it multiple times saves time and energy, and is ecologically sound. We understand that developers wish to control which platforms their apps run on. We’re also hopeful that Apple can find a way to limit which OS can run a specific IPA without altogether removing our ability to download apps.

Follow along with our quick tutorial embedded further ahead showing you how to run iOS apps that are not available on the Mac App Store on your Apple silicon Mac.

How to run any iOS app on an M1 Mac

To run any iOS app on your M1 Mac, including those that are unavailable on the Mac App Store, you’ll have to download its .ipa file from the App Store with iMazing for Mac, and then you can use them. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Use a cable to connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with iMazing running.
  2. Select your connected iOS device in iMazing’s lefthand column.
  3. Click the icon “Apps” in the iMazing window for the iOS device that you just plugged in.
  4. Click the option “Manage Apps” in the tabs area at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Choose the option “Library” in the Manage Apps screen
  6. Click the cloud icon next to the iOS app you want to run on this Mac to download it.
  7. Right-click the downloaded app in the list, then choose the option “Export IPA.”

You can now open the just-downloaded .ipa file to install and run it on your M1-powered Mac. Doing so will install the app in your Applications folder like any other macOS app. Keep in mind that your Mac and iPhone/iPad must be using the same Apple ID for this to work.

iPhone apps Apple Silicon Macs - exporting .ipa in iMazing
Exporting Instagram for iPhone’s .ipa file to my Mac with iMazing

Running touch-optimized apps in an environment that hasn’t been optimized for touch input may result in various hiccups along the way. Many of these touch-based apps require Apple’s “Touch Alternatives” system to work on your Mac properly when using a mouse and keyboard.

iPhone apps Apple Silicon Macs - touch alternatives dialog

And that’s all there’s to it!

Hat tip goes to Redditor “probablyamy,” who is the first to discover this method.

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