How to run iPhone emulator WITHOUT starting Xcode?

On my old Mac running Snow Leopard, I could type “ios” into spotlight and it would start up the iPhone/iPad emulator by itself.

I have since had to get a new machine running Lion. I have installed Xcode for Lion, I have installed the developer tool options from the preferences panel.

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  • But the “ios” option is no longer there 🙁 The only way now seems to be to run Xcode, create an empty project and then launch emulator with the run option.

    I have searched and searched the intertubes and the facewebs, but nothing helps.

    Does anyone know how to run only the emulator on Lion?

    THIS IS RESPONSE TO @ike_love thread below.
    THAT answer is not assured to work on all Yosemite machines.

    enter image description here

    14 Solutions Collect From Internet About “How to run iPhone emulator WITHOUT starting Xcode?”

    Assuming you have Xcode installed in /Applications, then you can do this from the command line to start the iPhone Simulator:

    $ open /Applications/\

    (Xcode 6+):

    $ open /Applications/

    You could create a symbolic-link from your Desktop to make this easier:

    $ ln -s /Applications/\ ~/Desktop

    (Xcode 6+):

    $ ln -s /Applications/ ~/Desktop

    As pointed out by @JackHahoney, you could also add an alias to your ~/.bash_profile:

    $ alias simulator='open /Applications/‌​veloper/Applications/iPhone\'

    (Xcode 6+):

    $ alias simulator='open /Applications/\'

    (Xcode 7+):

    $ alias simulator='open /Applications/'

    Which would mean you could start the iPhone Simulator from the command line with one easy-to-remember word:

    $ simulator

    The easiest way without fiddling with command line:

    1. launch Xcode once.
    2. run ios simulator
    3. drag the ios simulator icon to dock it.

    Next time you want to use it, just click on the ios simulator icon in the dock.

    is it helpful to you see the image enter image description here


    Now with new Xcode if the icon of the Xcode is on dock you can just right click it and form the menu you can select Open Developer Tool and in the sub menu you can select the iOS Simulator to open the simulator without opening the Xcode.!enter image description here

    You can get it to launch via spotlight if you create an Automator launcher for it:

    1. Open
    2. Choose type of Application
    3. Select Actions > Library > Utilities > Launch Application
    4. Open the dropdown of applications that can be launched and choose Other
    5. You can’t directly select the Simulator app because it’s inside the package. So instead you’ll have to navigate to it in a separate Finder window and drag it onto the file selector window. It will be at one of the following paths depending on your version of Xcode (oldest to newest):
      • /Applications/
      • /Applications/
      • /Applications/
    6. Finally, save this Automator app in your applications folder as iOS

    Create Automator app

    To get a nice icon for the Automator app you just made, you can do the following:

    1. Right click iOS and choose Get Info
    2. Click the icon in the upper left corner and do Cmd-C to copy it
    3. Right click your Automator app and choose Get Info
    4. Click the icon in the upper left corner and do Cmd-V to paste

    Copy icon

    In XCode 7+ the location is now


    Run it from the command line

    $ open -a Simulator

    Hope that helps somebody

    Try below instruction for launching iphone simulator:

    Goto Application Folder–>Xcode app–>right click to Show Package Contents–>now show files in xcode contents–>Developer–>Platforms–>iPhoneSimulator.platform–>Developer–>Applications–> now show iOS Simulator app click to launch iphone simulator…!

    With Xcode 6 the location of the simulator has changed to:


    It can no longer be found here:


    I hope this helps someone since I sometimes want to start the simulator from terminal.

    No need to do anything on the commandline.

    Just use spotlight to run

    screenshot of spotlight searching

    As the multitude of answers indicate, there are lots of different ways to address this issue. Not all of them address what is my number one issue, and what seems to be the asker’s priority, as well: The ability to launch from Spotlight.

    Here’s the solution that works well for me, and should work with any OS X and XCode versions. I’ve tested it on OS X 10.11 and XCode 7.3.

    Initial setup does require launching XCode, but after that, you won’t need to just to get to the Simulator.


    1. Launch XCode
    2. From the XCode menu, select Open Developer Tool > Simulator
    3. In the dock, control (or right) click on the Simulator icon
    4. Select Options > Show in Finder
    5. While holding down Command and Option, drag the Simulator icon to the applications directory. This creates an alias to it.
    6. If desired, rename the alias from “Simulator” to “iOS Simulator”. Whatever you name it is what it will show up as in Spotlight.

    Note: There are other ways to get to the location of the Simulator app (steps 1-4), such as using Go to Folder… in the Finder, but those require knowing the location of the Simulator to begin with. Since that has changed from version to version of XCode, this way should work regardless of these changes.


    1. Launch Spotlight (command-space, etc.)
    2. Type “simulator” or “ios” (if you renamed the alias).
    3. If necessary, use the down arrow to scroll to the Simulator alias. Eventually, spotlight should learn and make the alias the top choice so you can skip this step.
    4. Hit return

    The solutions above didn’t work for me in ZSH. I needed to escape the dot in the iPhoneSimulator.platform. This works for me:

    alias simulator="open /Applications/\"

    This could be even more resilient version:

    alias simulator="open -a 'iOS Simulator'"

    There’s a far easier way:

    1. Hit command + space, Spotlight Search will appear
    2. Type in iOS Simulator and hit return


    —– In follow up to @E. Maggini downvote—

    Yes you can still easily access iOS Simulator using Spotlight.

    enter image description here

    1. Go into Finder.
    2. On the sidebar, click applications.
    3. Find Xcode in Applications.
    4. Right click Xcode by whatever settings you have (usually two finger click [not tap]).
    5. Click “Show Package Contents.”
    6. Go into the Contents folder.
    7. Search simulator.
    8. Wait 30 secs for it to load.
    9. Scroll down and find iOS Simulator.
    10. You may drag this onto the dock for easier access.

    I hope this helps!

    From Terminal just run this command:

    ios-sim  start

    Or,add this to your ~/.profile to save yourself a few keystrokes:

    alias ios="ios-sim  start"

    Not sure which version of Max OS X and Xcode this command became available. I’m running 10.10.3 and 6.3 respectively.

    In the terminal:
    For Xcode-beta 9.x

    $ open /Applications/

    For Xcode 8.x

    $ open /Applications/