Using mtouch to Bundle Xamarin.iOS Apps

iPhone applications are shipped as application bundles. These are directories with the extension .app that contain your code, data, configuration files and a manifest that the iPhone uses to learn about your application.

The process of turning a .NET executable into an application is mostly driven by the mtouch command, a tool that integrates many of the steps required to turn the application into a bundle. This tool is also used to launch your application in the simulator and to deploy the software to an actual iPhone or iPod Touch device.

Detailed Instructions

Check our mtouch(1) manual page with all of the possible uses of the mtouch tool.


On a Mac, mtouch is bundled with Xamarin.iOS. It can be found in the following directory:


To make mtouch convenient to use, add its parent directory to your system's PATH environment variable.

For example, to do this in Bash, add the following line to the end of your ~/.bash_profile file:

export PATH=$PATH:/Library/Frameworks/Xamarin.iOS.framework/Versions/Current/bin


To use mtouch, do not rely on the existence of /Developer/MonoTouch/usr/bin, a symbolic link that points to /Library/Frameworks/Xamarin.iOS.framework/Versions/Current/bin. This symbolic link exists only to maintain compatibility with older MonoTouch releases that were not installed in /Library/Frameworks/..., and it may disappear in a future release.


The mtouch command can compile your code in three different ways:

  • Compile for simulator testing.
  • Compile for device deployment.
  • Deploy your executable to the device.

Building for the Simulator

When you get started, the most common used scenario will be for you to try out the application in the Simulator, so you will be using the mtouch -sim to compile the code into a simulator package. This is done like this:

$ mtouch -sim hello.exe

Building for the Device

To build software for the device you will build your application using the mtouch -dev option, additionally you need to provide the name of the certificate used to sign your application. The following shows how the application is built for the device:

$ mtouch -dev -c "iPhone Developer: Miguel de Icaza" foo.exe

In this particular case, we are using the "iPhone Developer: Miguel de Icaza" certificate to sign the application. This step is very important, or the physical device will refuse to load the application.

Running your Application

Launching on the Simulator

Launching on the simulator is very simple once you have an application bundle:

$ mtouch --sdkroot /Applications/ -launchsim 

If the --sdkroot flag is not set it will defaults to xcode-select path and result in the following warning:

eg: warning MT0061: No specified (using --sdkroot), using the system Xcode as reported by 'xcode-select --print-path': /Applications/

The command line above will produce some output like this:

Launching application
Application launched
PID: 98460
Press enter to terminate the application

It is strongly recommended that you also keep a log of the standard output and standard error files to assist in your debugging. The output of Console.WriteLine goes to stdout, and the output from Console.Error.WriteLine and any other runtime error messages goes to stderr.

To do this, use the --stdout and --stderr flags:

../../tools/mtouch/mtouch --stdout=output --stderr=error

If your application fails, you can see the output and error to diagnose the problem.

Deploying to a Device

To deploy to your device you need to provision your device as described in Apple's Managing Devices document. Once your device has been properly provisioned, you can use the mtouch command to deploy a compiled ".app" into your device. You do this using this command:

$ mtouch —sdkroot /Applications/

If the --sdkroot flag is not set it will defaults to xcode-select path and result in the following warning:

eg: warning MT0061: No specified (using --sdkroot), using the system Xcode as reported by 'xcode-select --print-path': /Applications/

These steps are typically performed by Visual Studio for Mac.


See the mtouch(1) manual page for details on the other command line options.