Run iOS Simulator Without Launching Xcode By Using an Alias

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Apple recently simplified the way Xcode is installed by bundling everything into a single /Applications/Xcode.app/ directory and removing the / Developer directory that previously existed. This approach has some advantages, but one of the annoyances is that you now have to start the iPhone or iPad simulator by opening Xcode first. Well, that’s not entirely true, you can actually still start iOS Simulator right away without opening Xcode first by creating an alias.

Note that modern versions of Xcode and OS X simply call the iOS Simulator “Simulator,” where you go depends on which version of OS X the Mac is running.

Create quick start alias to iOS Simulator

This applies to all versions of OS X and Xcode, although you’ll want to vary the path depending on the system version:

  1. From the Finder, hit Command + Shift + G and paste the following path, depending on your version of OS X:
  • Modern versions of OS X including Xcode 7 and El Capitan:
  • /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Applications/Simulator.app

  • Older versions of OS X with Snow Leopard:
  • /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneSimulator.platform/Developer/Applications/

  • Select ‘iOS Simulator.app’ or ‘Simulator.app’ and drag it to the Dock, Launchpad or hit Command + L to create an alias
  • Alternatively, you can grab a pre-made alias in a zip bundle that will automatically open iOS Simulator. Throw that on the desktop or in the Dock for easy access.

    iOS Simulator runs without Xcode

    This applies to Xcode 4.3 and above, including Xcode 5, Xcode 6 and including Xcode 7, although previous versions saved the iPhone / iOS simulator elsewhere so you want to be sure to adjust the path depending on which version you are using.

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