By Brandon Rader


2017-09-13 21:28:08 8 Comments

Now that Apple has removed the ability to access the iOS App Store in iTunes 12.7 on Mac/Windows (See MacRumors article), I can't find any way to download an IPA file from the App Store. As a note, I'm not worried about installing the IPA files (see "How do I backup and restore my IPA app backups in iTunes 12.7?"), I just need the IPA files as a developer looking for some basic information on the apps. I'd like to solve this without resorting to jailbreaking as my devices are already updated to iOS 10.3.3.

Here are things that I've tried that didn't work:

  • Extract from backup: The apps seem no longer to be backed up.
  • Save to Mac from iPhone management software: I believe this has been blocked by Apple works as far back as iOS 8.3.
  • Figuring out how the file is downloaded via proxy connection: At least for me, this looks too complicated to do because you have to authenticate with your Apple ID and I'm sure that by now, Apple even requires the phone to be authenticated in some way. Not sure if it would even be possible in the same way that you see all those Android APK download services out there.

At least for now, it looks to me like maybe the only way is to hold onto an older version of iTunes for as long as that works.

5 comments

@Rene Larsen 2017-09-14 11:48:09

This isn’t exactly what you want, but just to add this option too...

If you use the "Apple Configurator 2" app, you can still download and update apps from multiple Apple IDs - as you also could with iTunes.

  1. Connect the device with USB

  2. Sign in under Account:

enter image description here

  1. Choose Update in the menu:

enter image description here

A more detailed description can be found here: http://krypted.com/apple-configurator/upgrade-devices-and-apps-using-apple-configurator-2/

The Apps are downloaded to:

~/Library/Group\ Containers/K36BKF7T3D.group.com.apple.configurator/Library/Caches/Assets/TemporaryItems/MobileApps/

@Brandon Rader 2017-09-14 14:31:29

Amazing, I've been searching everywhere and didn't even think about this. This solution is perfect and even Apple-approved, so hopefully I don't have to worry about it getting shutdown by security updates! If you click "Add" rather than update, you can actually add apps that have already been purchased by the account, which is perfectly fine for me. The one minor issue I have is that it deletes the IPA file immediately after installing it, but if you have the folder open in advance, you can copy it out quickly.

@Rene Larsen 2017-09-14 15:07:09

Isn't it just copied into the Caches folder I have posted the path to ??

@Brandon Rader 2017-09-14 15:14:06

Yes, it is downloaded to the path you pasted, but I found that when using "Add" it deletes from cache immediately after installation. When using "Update" as your instructions, it is not deleted. Seems rather arbitrary on Apple's part. But anyway, you provided a working solution using Apple software, which is the best possible solution :)

@Rene Larsen 2017-09-15 08:16:19

Yes, and I can now confirm that also updated apps will be deleted (the folder 'TemporaryItems' is deleted - which also make sense, it is only a temporary folder). So if you need to have a backup of the *.ipa file after an update, copy it to a new location for safe keeping.

@Kilian Koeltzsch 2017-09-15 14:11:38

If you try to add an app which already exists on the device (e.g. just trying to add it twice) it will stay in the cache until Apple Configurator has been told what to do with the duplicate giving you at least a little bit of time to copy it elsewhere :P

@codester 2017-09-15 18:51:15

@ReneLarsen, guys Is there way I can get app .ipa from only device I have. Update is not working for me. When I update the apps not downloading. I want to get .ipa from iphone or able to download from appstore like we used to do.

@Kilian Koeltzsch 2017-09-15 19:44:38

@codester Go to add and try to add it again to your device from your purchase history. Apple Configurator will download the IPA (store it temporarily like noted above) and ask you if you want to overwrite or do nothing.

@Rene Larsen 2017-09-15 19:46:31

I don’t know how to transfer app(s) to a Mac/PC. One thing I haven’t tried yet, is to create a backup from Apple Configurator 2, to see what is been backed up - here is how a backup is made: krypted.com/iphone/create-a-backup-in-apple-configurator-2

@Rene Larsen 2017-09-15 20:43:50

Backing up with Apple Configurator 2 is just been done to the iTunes MobileSync folder - and apps are not been backed up.

@hotpaw2 2017-09-18 21:47:38

Backup up does not work. Update works only if there is a new version not on the device. See my answer for details.

@2mia 2018-02-20 12:11:21

this no longer works

@Rene Larsen 2018-02-20 19:18:16

I have just done an update using my 3 different Apple ID’s - so it is still working for me

@Jérôme Bédat 2017-11-30 11:05:22

Disclosure: I'm one of the developers of iMazing.

iMazing 2.5 for Mac and PC can download apps from the App Store and install .ipa files: https://imazing.com/guides/how-to-manage-apps-without-itunes

@brian.clear 2018-02-16 12:02:15

Imazing seems to be the only one that works. Apple Configurator 2 risks changing a device. Added an app but not sure how to trigger the download of the IPA

@Eric McNeill 2018-03-12 21:39:01

Imazing worked great for me. Their UI (2.5.4) tripped me up a bit - you have to select your phone, then Manage Apps, then you can download and export from there. If you go to the Apps section in the sidebar, select the app and "Copy to Mac" you get what looks like a data backup with an .imazingapp extension that's no use for this. It took me a while to figure out why people were saying this app worked for IPAs.

@georgexsh 2018-09-20 08:44:56

extract application from iPhone with iMazing 2.7 results a .imazingapp file, not .ipa.

@Jordan 2018-10-29 21:56:51

Just confirming that iMazing worked for me. As @EricMcNeill said, the UI is a little tricky to figure out, but if you follow his instructions it does work. For me, I already had the app downloaded to my iPhone, then once I was in the "Manage Apps" section of iMazing I just clicked the download icon to download the app to my MacBook, and then once downloaded I could right click and choose "Export .IPA".

@Brandon Rader 2017-10-10 02:23:16

There is now another solution: Apple provides a version of iTunes (12.6.3) which supports new devices such as iPhone 8 and iPhone X which still retains the App Store.

Apple Configurator 2 works well for me, but I’m adding this answer for those who would prefer to use iTunes or can’t use Apple Configurator (Windows users) Source: https://9to5mac.com/2017/10/09/apple-itunes-apps-focused-removed-stopgap/

Download: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208079

Edit: You can have iTunes 12.7 and iTunes 12.6.3 installed side-by-side.

  1. Install iTunes 12.6.3 from the links above.
  2. Copy the iTunes app and paste it to where you want, rename if necessary.
  3. Hold Option and double click iTunes. Create a new library in a separate location. iTunes 12.6.3 and iTunes 12.7 can't use the same library because iTunes 12.7 will update the file and iTunes 12.6.3 won't be able to understand it.
  4. Manually download the latest iTunes from Apple's website and run the installer to update your main copy of iTunes.
  5. (Optional) Change your iTunes 12.6.3 icon to a different icon to help distinguish between the two. (Right-click, Get Info, drag new icon onto existing icon).

Important: You will need to Option-Open each time you switch versions so that you can select the correct library and don't update the older library to 12.7 format.

@Brandon Rader 2018-09-26 17:18:47

This version of iTunes no longer functions in macOS Mojave.

@hotpaw2 2017-09-18 21:42:49

The Mac "Apple Configurator 2" Update button solution will work if you both have an older version on your iOS device or on your Mac, and a newer version is in the App store.

If the old version of the app is on your device, hit the "Update" button in the Configurator. After the Configurator downloads the new version, an ipa file will Temporarily appear in a sub-sub-directory of the:

/Library/Group Containers/K36BKF7T3D.group.com.apple.configurator/Library/Caches/Assets/TemporaryItems/MobileApps

directory. Immediately copy the app .ipa file out of that directory to a safe place (remote storage, etc.) before doing anything else (such as quitting the Configurator app, etc.).

If an old version of the app is not on your device, but you have saved an old copy from your ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications directory, or other backup, you can first use the Configurator app to install the old app on your device by using: Add button > Apps > Choose from my Mac... After installing the old version, follow the instructions above for updating to the current version of the app to get an .ipa file.

If you don't have an old version anywhere, try an Add of the same app twice, and see if you can copy the ipa file during the second Add operation if Configurator complains.

@Hailong 2017-10-29 08:30:09

Excellent answer, it's worked!! THX!!

@Mr Rogers 2018-09-11 17:35:18

This page has the same directions, just with images and a little more description.

@Andrew Garvie 2017-09-14 11:07:11

Seems the new way to do it is to open iTunes, then drag the .ipa file onto the device in the list on the left hand side (between Library and Playlists).

@Brandon Rader 2017-09-14 14:25:37

Not helpful at all. If you read the question, you'll see that I'm not concerned at all with installing an IPA file to a device. What I want to do is somehow download IPAs, either directly on my Mac/PC or on the iOS and move to them to the Mac/PC.

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