Launching the iOS Simulator without Xcode

Quick tips are random posts regarding something I discovered on my way to something bigger. They usually get longer than “quick” would imply, for which I refuse to apologize.

Correction: This post originally stated that Spotlight was also unable to index Simulator. It was quickly pointed out to me on Twitter that this is incorrect and Spotlight is indeed able to find the Simulator, so this only applies to people who prefer to launch from LaunchBar or similar.

This is a quick tip for developers, or anyone who uses the iOS Simulator on macOS. It’s fairly obvious, but I hadn’t thought of it until yesterday.

I don’t do much iOS development, but I do use the iOS Simulator for testing web applications. (Which, by the way, is slow and not ideal, but it’s the only way I’ve found to catch certain quirks specific to Safari on iOS.) Launching the Simulator, though, always requires opening Xcode and going to Developer Tools. Because the Simulator.app is embedded within the Xcode app bundle, apps like LaunchBar won’t find it to index it. LaunchBar, which is my launcher of choice, also ignores aliases, so dragging Simulator.app out to /Applications as an alias also doesn’t help.

I came up with the idea to use Automator and was going to write about it, but a quick DuckDuckGo search led me to Swiss Mac Users’s site where he had already detailed and explained the process. It’s super simple, but I recommend building the app yourself rather than downloading because there’s a rigamarole to get around an unsigned app that takes just as long as the single-action Automator workflow takes.

Now I can launch the iOS Simulator using LaunchBar and I’m 5% happier than I was before.

Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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