We would like to test and debug problems with our website when it is viewed using the latest iPad Pro. Our development environment is entirely Windows.

We've got very close to being able to debug the iPad using this webkit adapter on a Windows 10 machine but it is far from ideal. As a result we are considering investing in a Mac purely for debugging purposes.

Before we splash out on an expensive piece of kit please can I check that a MacBook is suitable for debugging an iPad Pro and if so would a MacBook Air do the job or would it need to be a MacBook Pro?


There's no requirement that you must use a "Pro" model in order to use the debugging tools in Safari. The MacBook Air has the exact same functionality. In fact there's no specific hardware requirement for this - it might as well be macOS running in a virtual machine on a computer running Windows.

Ofcourse there are other differences between the Pro and Air machines regarding performance, screen size, weight, etc.

Depending on your needs, you might be able to get by with renting a remote Mac online. Several services exists (Such as MacStadium) that allows you to rent Mac for a month or even by the hour. The Mac is accessed with remote desktop software. You could use remote USB software such as VirtualHere to access your iPad over USB from the remote Mac.

In order to do remote debugging of the web site on the iPad, you'll need to first enable it on the iPad:

  • Open Settings => Safari => Advanced

  • Toggle "Web Inspector" to on

Then plugin the iPad with a USB cable to the computer, and then do the following in Safari:

  • Open the Safari menu => Preferences => Advanced

  • Make sure "Show Develop menu in menu bar" is checked

Now you have the web inspector (what you call debugger) setup.

After opening your web site on the iPad, then open Safari on the computer and access the Develop menu. You'll find your iPad in the list, where you can choose your web site - the web inspector with debugger will be shown on the computer.

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  • Many thanks for that JK, you confirmed what I hoped about it just needing to be macOS. Am I right in thinking there is no legal way to install macOS on a VM that is on a Windows machine? – Mike Poole Jan 29 at 15:19
  • That doesn't sound correct no. As far as I know, it's always legal to run macOS in a VM on top of Windows - as long as the Windows operating system is installed on a Mac. If you buy a license for macOS (by purchasing an old, used Mac for example) - you have legally obtained macOS. If you choose to run it on non-Mac hardware - that's not illegal, but it is probably breaking your EULA with Apple. I.e. not illegal - but breaking your agreement with Apple. This is not legal advice, so take it with a grain of salt - and contact a lawyer if you're serious. – jksoegaard Jan 29 at 16:06
  • @MikePoole I have added the suggestion that you could rent an online Mac for remote desktop access instead of buying your own. Would be a lot cheaper if you only have to do this once - some services even offer free trials. – jksoegaard Jan 29 at 16:12
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    Well, depends on your setup - number of employees etc. I.e. instead of buying a Mac for each developer, it might be cheaper to buy one Mac with virtual machines so that several employees could effectively share one Mac - each with their own virtual environment. Regarding remote desktop approach - I would take one of the services that offer a free 7-day trial and simply test out in advance. I think the main thing to watch out for is to choose a machine setup with macOS 10.14 - as far as I know, the most common USB sharing software has problems with 10.15 because of new security features. – jksoegaard Jan 29 at 17:26
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    Yes, you can use Xcode and the simulator for that. It’s not an emulator, but a simulator. However if you want to do this, and are thinking of maybe using it for app development - I think you’ll have a much better time with the Mac Mini rather than the MacBook Air – jksoegaard Jan 31 at 12:57

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