How to install iPA files on iPhone without Jailbreak

How-To
April 15, 2017

An iPA file is a file with the .ipa extension. It is an iOS application archive file which stores an iOS app. In other words, each .ipa file functions as a container (like ZIP) for holding the various pieces of data that make up an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch app.

In this post, I will be showing you how to install iPA files on your iOS device using an application called Cydia Impactor.

Cydia impactor

About Cydia Impactor, if you’re a user who knows about Jailbreak, you must have heard of it as a jailbreak tweak for removing Cydia. Recently, Saurik (the man behind the former Cydia Impactor tweak) has renamed the tweak to Cydia Eraser and the name Cydia Impactor is used for his new tool, which we will be using in this tutorial.

So, the Cydia Impactor tool we know today is an application that works on macOS, Windows, and Linux. It allows you to install/sideload ipa files into your iPhone and iPad without using Xcode, which is a tool used for app development and available only for macOS.

Previously, I’ve already done a post on how to install Vidyo, which is a screen recorder app on iPhone/iPad and the process takes advantage of using this tool. Check it out if you want to know how to record your iPhone screen.

Now without further ado, let’s see how to use Cydia Impactor.

• Step 1: Download Cydia Impactor. [Download Link]

There are versions available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux too. Choose the right one that is compatible with your platform. After downloading, spend 10 seconds to take look at the instruction:

For iOS, if you are using either Windows or macOS, you definitely need to have iTunes installed for this tool to work (for different reasons). You do not need Xcode installed to use Impactor (even for features such as signing IPA files).

• Step 2: Connect your iOS device to your computer.

extract cydia impactor

• Step 3: Extract the downloaded ZIP file, and launch the program. For example, if you use Windows, extract the file and launch Impactor.exe. The app interface is like below, it will recognize and display your device name on the first box.

install-vidyo-ipa-file

• Step 4: Drag and drop the .ipa file onto the app interface. As soon as you drop the file, it will ask you to provide your Apple ID account and password. Note that you can use any active Apple ID accounts for this step.

install-vidyo-ipa-file-2

• Step 5: When the warning pop-up shows up, hit OK to confirm. Cydia Impactor will start signing the iPA file into your device. Once the iPA file is installed successfully, Cydia Impactor will return to its start interface. You can now start using the new app.

In some cases, when you open an app for the first time, you will see a pop-up saying “Untrusted Enterprise Developer”. To resolve it, go to Settings > General > Profile & Device Management. On this page, find the profile corresponding to the app and trust it.

Note: Cydia Impactor is an alternative for Xcode when it comes to sideloading iPA files into iOS devices. So the same as Xcode, if you are using a free Apple developer account, the app’s certificate will expire in seven days. It means you will have to repeat this process to get your app again after a week of using.

That’s the drawback of this method. It’s ok if you just want to install a short-term app like Vidyo, but if you want to install games and other apps, this is definitely not a good solution.

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3 Comments

  • Reply TJ May 9, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    In about Jan 2017, I was able to add old app versions and apps removed from the app store to my new ipad in a simpler way. I located my saved ipas, draged and dropped them into the iTunes folder where they are stored/referenced by the ipad, and then installed them through iTunes. This worked for most but not all of my old apps, and is permanent. I am wondering why this method cannot be used instead of this Impactor app, why it did NOT work for some apps, and in what case I should use Impactor instead? Also, you mention it is not permanent if ipas are installed this way… is there not another way that is?

    By the way, thank you very much for your article on recording audio and the detailed instructions on the steps to make those apps install. You make it possible for people to actually get through all those hoops!

    • Reply Daniel May 10, 2017 at 2:31 am

      iTunes cannot install iPA files of games and apps saved from other devices 😀 That’s the case. And there are many apps never appear on the App Store but you can still have them on your device using Cydia Impactor.

      • Reply TJ May 10, 2017 at 5:11 am

        Yes, it can, though not in all cases. That is how I re-populated my new ipad Pro with the same apps and older app versions I had on my older ipad. I am referring to apps which a person has already purchased (as you say, from the App Store only), and using the same Apple ID on the new device as on the old one, of course.
        This is more or less how: http://www.hightechdad.com/2015/03/26/how-to-restore-a-previous-version-of-an-ios-app/
        I cannot find the exact link that helped me to do it, but this was pretty much how. You do have to be careful that the ipad is plugged in to the Mac at some steps and not at others, and use the Itunes “apps available to install” List at one point and only use the Itunes Store “Purchased” link in tiny print at the bottom at another point… it is quite particular to make it work. It worked for 85% of my apps which were no longer available on the App Store including Amerigo, Ghost Trick, Back to the Future and Reconbot. The big question is: why does it not work for that 15%? I will definitely have to try Impactor. I am excited about the greater app possibilites there!

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