Xcode Installation Questions

People learning iOS development without prior programming experience have a lot of questions on installing Xcode, Apple’s tool for developing iOS and Mac apps. This post collects these questions and answers them.

Where do I get Xcode?

The easiest way to install Xcode is from the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store has the latest version, which usually requires the latest version of macOS.

If your Mac can’t run the latest version of Xcode, go to Apple’s Xcode Downloads page and install an older version. You can also use the Downloads page to install the latest version if you run into problems with the Mac App Store.

A faster way to find Xcode download links is to go to Xcode Releases, a site that has download links for every version of Xcode. Xcode Releases also lists the minimum version of macOS required for each Xcode version.

Why does Xcode take forever to install?

Xcode is a huge app. Verifying and expanding it takes a really long time. Even with a fast Internet connection, it will take 1–2 hours to install Xcode.

A Twitter thread explains why expanding takes so much time and provides a tip to speed up the expanding.

If you are installing Xcode from the Mac App Store, you can see the progress of the install from the LaunchPad app.

Why does Apple say I don’t have enough disk space to install Xcode?

Xcode requires a lot of disk space to install. You need 4–5 times the size of the Xcode download to install it. The file you are downloading is a compressed file. You need enough free space to temporarily store both the compressed and expanded files. If you have a Mac with a 128 GB drive, you will have a tough time installing Xcode.

If you get an error message saying there isn’t enough free space to install Xcode, free up more disk space until the error message goes away.

Some ways to free up disk space and work around space limitations include the following:

  • Download Xcode from the Xcode Releases site onto an external drive and expand it there. Copy the expanded file to your main drive.
  • Restarting your Mac can free up disk space if you haven’t restarted the Mac in several days.
  • The Dev Cleaner app can free up space used by Xcode caches and old iOS simulators.
  • Delete existing versions of Xcode before installing a new version.

Can I install Xcode on an external drive?

Xcode must be installed on your Mac’s startup disk. If you make an external drive the startup disk, you can install Xcode on an external drive. Use the System Preferences app (Choose Apple > System Preferences from the menu bar) to set the startup disk.

Can I run Xcode on an iPad?

Xcode currently runs only on Macs. Apple has a Swift Playgrounds app for iPad to learn Swift programming. Version 4, which requires iOS 15, lets you develop iOS apps on an iPad.

Can I run Xcode on a Windows PC?

Not without violating Apple’s license on macOS. Xcode currently runs only on macOS. Apple’s license forbids installing macOS on non-Apple hardware.

Can I have multiple versions of Xcode on my Mac?

Yes you can.

If you are installing Xcode from the Mac App Store, make sure you don’t overwrite your existing Xcode install. When installing from the Mac App Store, Apple adds a file named Xcode in your Applications folder. Change the name of the existing Xcode app on your Mac before installing the new version.