Build fat static library (device + simulator) using Xcode and SDK 4+


It appears that we can - theoretically - build a single static library that includes both simulator and iPhone and iPad.

However, Apple has no documentation on this that I can find, and Xcode's default templates are NOT configured to do this.

I'm looking for a simple, portable, re-usable technique that can be done inside Xcode.

Some history:

  • In 2008, we used to be able to make single static-libs that included both sim and device. Apple disabled that.
  • Throughout 2009, we made pairs of static libs - one for sim, one for device. Apple has now disabled that too.


  1. This is a great idea, it's an excellent approach, but it doesn't work:

    • There's some bugs in his script that means it only works on his machine - he should be using BUILT_PRODUCTS_DIR and/or BUILD_DIR instead of "guesstimating" them)
    • Apple's latest Xcode prevents you from doing what he's done - it simply will not work, due to the (Documented) change in how Xcode processes targets)
  2. Another SO questioner asked how to do it WITHOUT xcode, and with responses that focussed on the arm6 vs arm7 part - but ignored the i386 part:

    • Since Apple's latest changes, the Simulator part isn't the same as the arm6/arm7 difference any more - it's a different problem, see above)
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Just wondering - why would you want that? Doesn't it make device library bigger and heavier on the device? – Cawas Jan 14 '11 at 23:14
@Cawas - the "weight" of the library is irrelevant in 95% of real-world situations - for most of us, the libs are tiny, especially compared to e.g. displaying even just one single UIImageView. – Adam Jan 15 '11 at 14:58
@Cawas - meanwhile, the value here is that you make it MUCH easier for other people to use/re-use your library. It becomes a one-stage drag/drop process. – Adam Jan 15 '11 at 14:59
@Cawas - finally, a surprisingly valuable benefit: it is so easy to accidentally send someone the "wrong" compiled library - XCode does zero checks, and will happily compile the "wrong" architecture into the named file you thought was the "correct" architecture. Apple keeps breaking Xcode in this area - each new version has changes that mean "the button you pressed yesterday to compile your lib correctly will today compile it incorrectly". Until Apple stops messing us all around, we need to idiot-proof their bad UI :). – Adam Jan 15 '11 at 15:01
That would really be great! Because right now as it is, we just can't rely on the simulator for anything little bit more complex. – Cawas Jan 19 '11 at 1:11
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protected by Brad Larson Apr 13 '11 at 15:52

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6 Answers

up vote 180 down vote accepted

ALTERNATIVES: - easy copy/paste of latest version (but install instructions may change - see below!)

Karl's library ( ) takes much more effort to setup, but much nicer long-term solution (it converts your library into a Framework).


  1. Info on how to use this script with a project-embedded-in-another-project (although I highly recommend NOT doing that, ever - Apple has a couple of show-stopper bugs in Xcode if you embed projects inside each other, from Xcode 3.x through to Xcode 4.6.x)

  2. Bonus script to let you auto-include Bundles (i.e. include PNG files, PLIST files etc from your library!) - see below (scroll to bottom)

  3. now supports iPhone5 (using Apple's workaround to the bugs in lipo). NOTE: the install instructions have changed (I can probably simplify this by changing the script in future, but don't want to risk it now)

  4. "copy headers" section now respects the build setting for the location of the public headers (courtesy of Frederik Wallner)

  5. Added explicit setting of SYMROOT (maybe need OBJROOT to be set too?), thanks to Doug Dickinson

SCRIPT (this is what you have to copy/paste)

For usage / install instructions, see below

############################################ c.f. Version 2.7## Latest Change:# - Supports iPhone 5 / iPod Touch 5 (uses Apple's workaround to lipo bug)# # Purpose:#   Automatically create a Universal static library for iPhone + iPad + iPhone Simulator from within XCode## Author: Adam Martin - Based on: original script from Eonil (main changes: Eonil's script WILL NOT WORK in Xcode GUI - it WILL CRASH YOUR COMPUTER)#set-e
set-o pipefail

#################[ Tests: helps workaround any future bugs in Xcode ]#########
DEBUG_THIS_SCRIPT="false"if[ $DEBUG_THIS_SCRIPT ="true"]then
echo "########### TESTS #############"
echo "Use the following variables when debugging this script; note that they may change on recursions"
echo "TARGET_BUILD_DIR = $TARGET_BUILD_DIR"fi#####################[ part 1 ]################### First, work out the BASESDK version number (NB: Apple ought to report this, but they hide it)#    (incidental: searching for substrings in sh is a nightmare! Sob)

SDK_VERSION=$(echo ${SDK_NAME}| grep -o '.\{3\}$')# Next, work out if we're in SIM or DEVICEif[ ${PLATFORM_NAME}="iphonesimulator"]then

echo "XCode has selected SDK: ${PLATFORM_NAME} with version: ${SDK_VERSION} (although back-targetting: ${IPHONEOS_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET})"
echo "...therefore, OTHER_SDK_TO_BUILD = ${OTHER_SDK_TO_BUILD}"######################[ end of part 1 ]#######################################[ part 2 ]#################### IF this is the original invocation, invoke WHATEVER other builds are required## Xcode is already building ONE target...## ...but this is a LIBRARY, so Apple is wrong to set it to build just one.# ...we need to build ALL targets# ...we MUST NOT re-build the target that is ALREADY being built: Xcode WILL CRASH YOUR COMPUTER if you try this (infinite recursion!)### So: build ONLY the missing platforms/configurations.if["true"== ${ALREADYINVOKED:-false}]then
echo "RECURSION: I am NOT the root invocation, so I'm NOT going to recurse"else# CRITICAL:# Prevent infinite recursion (Xcode sucks)export ALREADYINVOKED="true"

echo "RECURSION: I am the root ... recursing all missing build targets NOW..."
echo "RECURSION: ...about to invoke: xcodebuild -configuration \"${CONFIGURATION}\" -project \"${PROJECT_NAME}.xcodeproj\" -target \"${TARGET_NAME}\" -sdk \"${OTHER_SDK_TO_BUILD}\" ${ACTION} RUN_CLANG_STATIC_ANALYZER=NO" BUILD_DIR=\"${BUILD_DIR}\" BUILD_ROOT=\"${BUILD_ROOT}\" SYMROOT=\"${SYMROOT}\"


ACTION="build"#Merge all platform binaries as a fat binary for each configurations.# Calculate where the (multiple) built files are coming from:

echo "Taking device build from: ${CURRENTCONFIG_DEVICE_DIR}"
echo "Taking simulator build from: ${CURRENTCONFIG_SIMULATOR_DIR}"

echo "...I will output a universal build to: ${CREATING_UNIVERSAL_DIR}"# ... remove the products of previous runs of this script#      NB: this directory is ONLY created by this script - it should be safe to delete!

echo "lipo: for current configuration (${CONFIGURATION}) creating output file: ${CREATING_UNIVERSAL_DIR}/${EXECUTABLE_NAME}"
xcrun -sdk iphoneos lipo -create -output "${CREATING_UNIVERSAL_DIR}/${EXECUTABLE_NAME}""${CURRENTCONFIG_DEVICE_DIR}/${EXECUTABLE_NAME}""${CURRENTCONFIG_SIMULATOR_DIR}/${EXECUTABLE_NAME}"########### Added: StackOverflow suggestion to also copy "include" files#    (untested, but should work OK)#
echo "Fetching headers from ${PUBLIC_HEADERS_FOLDER_PATH}"
echo "  (if you embed your library project in another project, you will need to add"
echo "   a "UserSearchHeaders" build setting of: (NB INCLUDE THE DOUBLE QUOTES BELOW!)"
echo '        "$(TARGET_BUILD_DIR)/usr/local/include/"'if[-d "${CURRENTCONFIG_DEVICE_DIR}${PUBLIC_HEADERS_FOLDER_PATH}"]then
mkdir -p "${CREATING_UNIVERSAL_DIR}${PUBLIC_HEADERS_FOLDER_PATH}"# * needs to be outside the double quotes?


  1. Create a static lib project
  2. Select the Target
  3. In "Build Settings" tab, set "Build Active Architecture Only" to "NO" (for all items)
  4. In "Build Phases" tab, select "Add ... New Build Phase ... New Run Script Build Phase"
  5. Copy/paste the script (above) into the box


  1. OPTIONAL: if you have headers in your library, add them to the "Copy Headers" phase
  2. OPTIONAL: ...and drag/drop them from the "Project" section to the "Public" section
  3. OPTIONAL: ...and they will AUTOMATICALLY be exported every time you build the app, into a sub-directory of the "debug-universal" directory (they will be in usr/local/include)
  4. OPTIONAL: NOTE: if you also try to drag/drop your project into another Xcode project, this exposes a bug in Xcode 4, where it cannot create an .IPA file if you have Public Headers in your drag/dropped project. The workaround: dont' embed xcode projects (too many bugs in Apple's code!)

If you can't find the output file, here's a workaround:

  1. Add the following code to the very end of the script (courtesy of Frederik Wallner): open "${CREATING_UNIVERSAL_DIR}"

  2. Apple deletes all output after 200 lines. Select your Target, and in the Run Script Phase, you MUST untick: "Show environment variables in build log"

  3. if you're using a custom "build output" directory for XCode4, then XCode puts all your "unexpected" files in the wrong place.

    1. Build the project
    2. Click on the last icon on the right, in the top left area of Xcode4.
    3. Select the top item (this is your "most recent build". Apple should auto-select it, but they didn't think of that)
    4. in the main window, scroll to bottom. The very last line should read: lipo: for current configuration (Debug) creating output file: /Users/blah/Library/Developer/Xcode/DerivedData/AppName-ashwnbutvodmoleijzlncudsekyf/Build/Products/Debug-universal/libTargetName.a

    ...that is the location of your Universal Build.

How to include "non sourcecode" files in your project (PNG, PLIST, XML, etc)

  1. Do everything above, check it works
  2. Create a new Run Script phase that comes AFTER THE FIRST ONE (copy/paste the code below)
  3. Create a new Target in Xcode, of type "bundle"
  4. In your MAIN PROJECT, in "Build Phases", add the new bundle as something it "depends on" (top section, hit the plus button, scroll to bottom, find the ".bundle" file in your Products)
  5. In your NEW BUNDLE TARGET, in "Build Phases", add a "Copy Bundle Resources" section, and drag/drop all the PNG files etc into it

Script to auto-copy the built bundle(s) into same folder as your FAT static library:

echo "RunScript2:"
echo "Autocopying any bundles into the 'universal' output folder created by RunScript1"
share | edit | flag
I've used this on a few projects now, and shipped stuff into the app-store that used this to build the libraries. All worked 100% OK, so I'm sticking with this for now (until Xcode 4, perhaps) – Adam Oct 12 '10 at 7:28
Updated with Todd's correction – Adam Oct 22 '10 at 5:43
Adam, Just want to say "Thanks!" for maintaining this, this script has saved my life (or at least let me avoid large amounts of work) on more than one occasion! – Alasdair Allan Apr 8 '11 at 19:54
I think StackOverflow should allow +2, +5, +10 for upvotes if you are willing to sacrifice your own rep in situations like these. This saved me so much time! – tacos_tacos_tacos Oct 24 '11 at 15:37
Can anyone confirm if this method works for XCode 4.5? I am trying to compile a static library and use it in my main project. I am able to run this on the device but not on the simulator. This is the error I get: missing required architecture i386 in file /Users/alex/Documents/iphone/production/iphone/mymedia/libMyUnrar4iOS.a (2 slices) – Alex1987 Sep 17 '12 at 18:16
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I've made an XCode 4 project template that lets you make a universal framework as easily as making a regular library:

share | edit | flag
Its worked like a charm! Thx for the templates. – Ben Apr 20 '11 at 8:47
Looks nice. Good job! – Eonil May 11 '11 at 10:32
Worked perfectly for me (good documentation was as key as the code itself... nicely done) – Doug HaysSep 22 '11 at 20:42
Great work, thank you. – Jano Oct 21 '11 at 12:51
That was so easy! Thanks for providing thorough documentation. – Richard Smith Sep 20 '12 at 9:16
show 6 more comments

There is a command-line utility xcodebuild and you can run shell command within xcode. So, if you don't mind using custom script, this script may help you.

#Configurations.#This script designed for Mac OS X command-line, so does not use Xcode build variables.#But you can use it freely if you want.

ACTION="clean build"

SIMULATOR=iphonesimulator3.2#Build for all platforms/configurations.

xcodebuild -configuration Debug-target ${TARGET}-sdk ${DEVICE} ${ACTION} RUN_CLANG_STATIC_ANALYZER=NO
xcodebuild -configuration Debug-target ${TARGET}-sdk ${SIMULATOR} ${ACTION} RUN_CLANG_STATIC_ANALYZER=NO
xcodebuild -configuration Release-target ${TARGET}-sdk ${DEVICE} ${ACTION} RUN_CLANG_STATIC_ANALYZER=NO
xcodebuild -configuration Release-target ${TARGET}-sdk ${SIMULATOR} ${ACTION} RUN_CLANG_STATIC_ANALYZER=NO

#Merge all platform binaries as a fat binary for each configurations.





Maybe looks inefficient(I'm not good at shell script), but easy to understand. I configured a new target running only this script. The script is designed for command-line but not tested in :)

The core concept is xcodebuild and lipo.

I tried many configurations within Xcode UI, but nothing worked. Because this is a kind of batch processing, so command-line design is more suitable, so Apple removed batch build feature from Xcode gradually. So I don't expect they offer UI based batch build feature in future.

share | edit | flag
Thanks, it's really interesting that the underlying simple commands still appear to work - it's just that Apple broke their GUI spectacularly. Looks like I could make a fully custom project template that would "not suck" and fix the things Apple broke, by pre-making all the Targets, and wiring up this script with xcode build vars. I'll try it out on my next project :) – Adam Sep 2 '10 at 20:01
I used a script similar to this and put it under a new target containing only the shell script. The recursive build script above is very clever, but unnecessarily confusing. – benzado Feb 9 '11 at 18:52
I prefer shell scripts for stuff like this, here is my take – slf Jul 25 '12 at 20:47
@benzado Yeah I avoided complexity intentionally because I think shell script must be easy to read for modifying. – Eonil Jul 26 '12 at 5:42
lipo: can't open input file: /Debug-iphoneos/ – Dima Goltsman Mar 11 at 9:11
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I have spent many hours trying to build a fat static library that will work on armv7, armv7s, and the simulator. Finally found a solution here:

The gist is to build the two libraries (one for the device and then one for the simulator) separately, rename them to distinguish from each other, and then lipo -create them into one library.

lipo -create libPhone.a libSimulator.a -output libUniversal.a

I tried it and it works!

share | edit | flag
I suggest you read the accepted answer. You may find that this has been covered already, 2 years previously... – Adam Jan 21 at 0:08
I read it, used the script, but it was not working for me for armv7s. – g_low Feb 5 at 10:43
the lipo command doesnt work on the script, but manually it works great! 10x – Dima Goltsman Mar 11 at 9:34
+1 This was really all I needed, not a huge "make-a-framework" script. – LearnCocos2D Jun 5 at 22:44
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I've made this into an Xcode 4 template, in the same vein as Karl's static framework template.

I found that building static frameworks (instead of plain static libraries) was causing random crashes with LLVM, due to an apparent linker bug - so, I guess static libraries are still useful!

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Hi Michael, I have tried your static library template but I can compile for simulator but not for device, here the error: ** BUILD FAILED ** The following build commands failed: ProcessPCH /var/folders/qy/ncy6fkpn6677qt876ljrc54m0000gn/C/‌​mpiledHeaders/MenuBarUniversal-Prefix-gwxxzpanxyudmfgryorafazokagi/MenuBarUnivers‌​al-Prefix.pch.pth MenuBarUniversal/MenuBarUniversal-Prefix.pch normal armv7 objective-c (1 failure) Showing first 200 notices only Command /bin/sh failed with exit code 65 – Kappe Nov 1 '12 at 10:40
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Great job! I hacked together something similar, but had to run it separately. Having it just be part of the build process makes it so much simpler.

One item of note. I noticed that it doesn't copy over any of the include files that you mark as public. I've adapted what I had in my script to yours and it works fairly well. Paste the following to the end of your script.

if[-d "${CURRENTCONFIG_DEVICE_DIR}/usr/local/include"]then
  mkdir -p "${CURRENTCONFIG_UNIVERSAL_DIR}/usr/local/include"
  cp "${CURRENTCONFIG_DEVICE_DIR}"/usr/local/include/* "${CURRENTCONFIG_UNIVERSAL_DIR}/usr/local/include"
share | edit | flag
OK, i've added that to the answer above. (haven't had a chance to test it yet, but looks correct to me) – Adam Dec 2 '10 at 15:02
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