I downloaded an app on my phone and transferred it to my MacBook Pro and I got a file of the app. Whenever I click on it, it says the app already exists in my iTunes library and do I want to replace it. How do I open the app so I can use it?


I think there is a misunderstanding here. An iOS app (from your iPhone) cannot run on your MacBook Pro.

If you want to use a similar app on your Mac, I suggest you check if there is a Mac version of the application you want to use. You can search on the Mac App Store or on the app website.

  • cough cough IOS Simulator cough cough Feb 2 '16 at 14:39
  • @ACE the iOS Simulator purpose is for development. Most of the times most iOS app won't work on it since they required external capabilities like Bluetooth for example that are not supported by the simulator. I'm not even sure that you can launch an app from your iTunes library on the iOS simulator.
    – Ermiar
    Feb 2 '16 at 14:51
  • If you put it in the right folder, you should be able to get the app on the simulator. If the op wants to run the app on their computer badly enough, the lack of device sensors is just a minor side effect. Feb 2 '16 at 15:07
  • 9
    Even if you have Xcode (and by extension, the iOS Simulator) installed, you still wouldn't be able to run an app from the App Store in the simulator. Here's an excellent answer with more details: stackoverflow.com/a/10611160/1058399
    – Peter W.
    Feb 2 '16 at 15:17

The iPhone (and other mobile devices) run iOS, which is a different operating system to OSX which is the desktop operating system for your Macbook. Any purchases you make and download on your phone are only able to run on your phone (or other iOS device, potentially). While you can transfer them to your Mac (Transfer Purchases in iTunes) this is intended for backup purposes, not to allow you to run it on the Mac.

Slightly confusingly, the App Store on your phone, has a similar equivalent for desktop Macs call the Mac App Store, but the contents are different - even for an app that is available in both, they will be 2 different apps for each operating system and require 2 separate purchases.

The fact that it already exists, is probably because you have got the setting set to automatically download purchased items from the iOS App Store onto your Mac for backup - this is often a pointless step, as you can always re-download for free directly from the (either) App Store anyway, but for large downloads like games I suppose it can decrease the time needed to re-install depending on your circumstances.

  • The operating systems are nearly identical. The big obstacle is the fact that the CPUs are totally different (x86 vs. ARM). If the CPU architectures were the same, the apps could potentially be run, given the right support libraries (as evidenced by the Simulator in Xcode which does exactly that).
    – nobody
    Feb 3 '16 at 3:43
  • 1
    Totally agree, but oversimplified for target audience in this case.
    – stuffe
    Feb 3 '16 at 9:15

You can open, and so use, the app from your iPhone. While from your MacBook Pro you can only keep store the app in the iTunes library and update it when a new version is available.


Apple doesn't (yet) support running iOS apps on a Mac. This feature may be coming in the future however -- their bitcode technology would allow it. It could be a very useful feature...

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