Thursday, 24 March 2011

iOS - How to open the ipa files

Normally, when an application for ipod/iPhone has been downloaded, and you have synchronized it, iTunes creates automatically an backup of the application in your computer. To open it and see the content, you can do:

1. Locate the ipa file.
In Mac OS, it is located in
/Users/YourName/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications
/Users/YourName/Music/iTunes/iPod Games

2. Rename the extension.
2.1 Right click on the package you want to open and select "Rename". In Mac OS, just press "enter"
2.2 Remove the ".ipa" extension and write ".zip" instead.
It will appear as a zip file

3. Open it as an normal zip file
Once it is opened, you can see the content. Normally, it contains tree files
  • iTuneArtWork: an Binary file
  • iTunesMetaData.plist: a XML file which contains the metadata information about the application: Its name, the AppleId, etc.
  • Payload: It contains the application. It is just a directory, so you should be able to open it as normal directory.


  1. if the application isnt supported on a mac [it is on iphone, ipad, ipod] is there any way around opening it on a mac?

  2. It is a good question. Different operation system utilizes different file system and they could not be compatibles.

    Let's say that in the Hard disk it contains an array of 1s and 0s. The format to recognize them and differentiate different types of files or directory is called file system. It also tells you where is the final bit of a file and where does a file starts.

    Different Operation systems (Windows, Linux, Mac os X, etc) have different ways to recognize the 1s and 0s. Windows was using FAT and now NTFS. Linux is using ext3 or ext4 and Mac os HTF+.

    Mac supports natively FAT from windows, but since there are not official documentation about NTFS, it only can read NTFS. Regarding ext3 or ext4, it can not support it neither, but you can try to install an virtual machine to do it.

    If you are obtaining your files from the iphone, ipad or ipod, you must know which file system. (I think I will write a post about it). I wil let you know then.

  3. @JiaHao Liu Liu: Thank you . It helped me a lot...

  4. doesn't work, there's no application.exe or anything

    1. I am sorry if you are looking for any .exe file inside of ipa files. It does not have it. Be aware that .exe file is just used for Windows, and ipa files has been designed for iOS.