iOS on MacOS: Run iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac

iOS on MacOS: Run iPhone and iPad apps on your Mac

Apple offers iPhone, iPad, and Mac users a robust collection of apps, but apps running on iOS and iPadOS have long been limited to the App Store, while Mac owners use the Mac App Store for all their software needs.

That changed with the launch of Apple Silicon. If your computer has an Apple M1 or M2 chip, you can use your favorite iPhone (and iPad) apps natively on your Mac. Just look for Designed for iPhone or Designed for iPad in the Mac App Store.

Accessing iPad and iPhone apps on your computer opens up a whole new world of photo editing, podcast listening, gaming, and more. Apps like Overcast and PhotoRoom can now bring the mobile experience to a bigger screen. It doesn’t take much work to load your favorite programs onto your Mac desktop or laptop. Here’s how to download your apps and configure your controls.

What you need to run mobile apps on Mac

about this mac

As seen in macOS Ventura (Credit: Apple)

To run iPhone or iPad apps on your Mac, you’ll need a machine with an Apple Silicon chip. At this point, most computers sold by Apple contain some variation of the M1 or M2 chip, including:

  • MacBook Air from late 2020 and later

  • Mac mini from late 2020 and later

  • 13-inch MacBook Pro from late 2020 and later

  • MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch from 2021 and later

  • iMac 2021 and later

  • Mac Studio 2022 and later

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To check your specific computer, click the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen and select About this Mac. In macOS Ventura and later, the Shavings the pop-up window says Apple or Intel. For older operating systems, see the Processor label.

Install mobile apps on Mac

App Store account page

(Publisher: Tyler Hayes)

To download iPhone and iPad apps to your Mac, launch the App Store from your computer and click the account name in the lower left corner. This displays the apps you’ve downloaded and purchased through your account on different devices.

Choose the iPhone and iPad apps text to see all the device apps that can be installed on your Mac. Paid apps will once again be free to download, although some may require a current subscription for full functionality.

Note that not all of your iPhone and iPad apps may be available for download. Developers have the option to opt out of having their apps run on a Mac. For example, Instagram cannot be used on a laptop or desktop computer (although you can view your account from the web). There may be other apps available for download, but they may not have been fully tested by the developer and may not work properly.

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If you use Family Sharing for apps, you can also see apps downloaded by other people connected to your account. After clicking on the account name in the lower left corner of the App Store, click on the same name on the right side to see other available apps.

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Add Touch-Alternative Controls

touch control menu

Macs do not (yet) have touch screens, so some controls may differ slightly from those found on mobile devices. To activate the alternative touch control, click on the name of the application in the upper left corner of the screen. Select it Settings and turn it on Tap on Alternatives. A diagram on the menu screen shows the options available, including rollability, stealth, and scrolling. You can also select it Game control tab to enable these controls through your gamepad.

Can you use Mac apps on iPad?

The short answer is no. Mac apps cannot run natively on iPad. The current solution is to use remote access software such as Screens(Opens in a new window), to view and manage your Mac screen on iPad. It’s not perfect, but at least it feels like running Mac software on an iPad.

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