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How to program apps using xCode

xcode tutorial
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Scared man

When I started programming mobile apps, learning the basics in xCode was one of the most difficult things I had to do. My issues were multiple: I didn’t like using a mac (sorry Apple!), my programming was limited to basic HTML, and xCode looked like a pretty formidable animal to conquer.


I spent nearly 2 weeks hitting buttons in my first foray into iPhone app development. What is a P12?! I must admit I cursed. I despaired of ever being able to get an app to build. The thought of actually being able to program upload my own app to Apple was like a dream. And I was getting pretty good at copying all my errors into google in the hope someone out there had figured out the answer.

The whole thing just seemed full of these complicated steps that were fairly involved to try and figure out, let alone do successfully, as a non techie person. So here is a quick xCode tutorial of what you need to know to make an xCode app for iPhone or iPad app.


First up you need to be enrolled as an Apple developer for $99/year. If you sign up as an individual iPhone app developer all you need is a credit card and its all sorted in about 24 hours. If you sign up as a company then brace yourself as it’s a lot more involved, you need to prove you are actually a legal company and it can takes weeks or months to get approved. You can have multiple individual accounts and you can upgrade an individual account to a company account in the future.


Then download xcode on a recent-ish mac. My first mac was a second hand mac book I got for €550. It did the job perfectly. One thing to be aware of if you are buying a mac, made sure it’s fairly recent as the current iOS xcode software will not run on old macs. So double check the spec of your mac with the latest version of xcode (on the mac app store) before you buy your mac.


When you get your Apple developer account, you get access to two important websites:

iOS developer center – this is where you do the certs, App IDs and update your device UDIDs. It is a bit techy.
iTunesConnect – this is where you put in the content people will see in the store, like icon, name, keywords, categories, screenshots, etc. It’s much simpler :)



Once a year, and right at the beginning when you sign up to Apple, you need to make a main development certificate and a distribution certificate. You will make these in the iOS developer center. Click on the ‘certificates’ button as in the pic above. Then you clicking through a few steps and upload a file from your mac. Then download the two certs to your mac and double click to install them. Once you have them made, you can forget about them until next year.

5. Create P12 file (MAYBE)

If you already have an Apple account, and someone else has made these two certs for you (maybe you hired a devekoper to upload / build an app for you, and he made these certs on his mac), you will need to get a P12 made. Without a P12 certificate, only the person who made the certs can build apps with your Apple account. But the good news is that making a P12 is really easy…. here is how to make one. Once the original person who made the certs has made the P12 and emailed it to you, download it to your mac, double click on the file and then you are good to go!


If you want to looks at apps on your iPhone or iPad, before they are published in the store then you need to add the UDID (a unique reference number each device has) of that device in the ‘devices’ section of the iOS developer center. You can add 100 devices max each year, and you can only delete them after the year is up. Here is how you find your UDID.

All everything above here you do at the start when you make an Apple developer account. Once it’s all set up you can forget about it for while anyway :) The next steps are what you need to do for every app you want to publish.


Log into the iOS developer center.


Create an app ID. This is really quick to do.



Create a development provisioning profile on the iOS dev center (again this is fast, click through a few screens and remember the name you use). Select the app ID you just created and select the main dev cert you made at the start.

Dev provisioning profile


Create a distribution provisioning profile on the iOS dev center (click through a few screens and remember the name you use). Select the app ID you just created and select the main dist cert you made at the start.


Download both provisioning profiles to your mac, and double click them to install them.

A new screen should appear and you should see them in this screen. Filter by date if you have a lot of profiles already installed on your mac.


If you have got the 2 main certs on your mac, and you have made these little prov certs correctly, there’ll be a green tick beside them. If they are red back to the drawing board as they won’t work in your app.


You should have all the correct certs etc on your mac. Now open xcode, and open your app. If you hit ‘run’ the app should build in the simulator on your mac and you’ll be able to see it.

If you want to see the app on your iPhone or iPad, then you need start to figure out where you type in your bundle ID / App ID, and where you select the correct development provisioning profiles, that you have just downloaded to your mac. Do it all correctly, plug in your iphone and hit ‘run’. The app will build on your iphone. This is a Big Deal to get this far! :)

12. ITC

Once it’s running nicely on your iPhone, then log on to iTunesConnect and set up your screenshots, iphone app keywords, in app purchases, app name, app icons, etc.


Once thats all done, then its back to your mac again. Now you need to change your selected certs to your distribution provisioning profiles that you downloaded earlier. Here is quick way to upload your app from your mac to the store.


Now to create an xCode build and submit iOS app to app store.

Upload to Apple


It’s unlikely you will get through this process without errors the first time round… and it does seem a lot can go wrong, speaking from experience. Three things will make it easier though:

1. If you get an error (and there are thousands!!) copy the error into google and do a search

2. The first time is the worst and it definitely gets better. When you start to recognise the errors you know you are on the right path.

3. If you want more in-depth info on any sections, try the Apple overview and Ray W’s blog. Need more help?

Do you have friends reskinning iPhone apps? If you loved this content please share it with them.

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Elaine Heney is an online entrepreneur, triple #1 best selling author and international keynote speaker. Elaine is an Amazon FBA ecommerce advisor, investor, Hollywood movie producer, online business consultant and CEO of Chocolate Lab Cashflow. Elaine has also published over 300 mobile apps across Amazon, Apple & Google, and enjoyed over 20 million app downloads and over 50 #1 apps worldwide.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Zag May 28, 2013, 5:19 pm

    Thanks for all this information very helpful :)

  • Caleb May 29, 2013, 1:49 am

    I was wondering what Mac OS you would recommend getting as far as a newish version? I am hoping to find an older mac computer and have never used one before. I plan on enrolling in your xcode class and don’t want to buy a worthless computer. Thanks!

  • Elaine May 29, 2013, 2:49 am

    This is tricky. The issue is if you get one that’s too old you are buggered and xcode will not work. Safest thing is to email Apple directly, or go into a few Apple stores and ask them in there for the EXACT min tech spec needed, hopefully for the next 2 years to get some value out of it. I say a few stores just in case one gives you incorrect info. Apple just like people to have recent-ish machines and have a habit of stopping things working on older machines unfortunately. My first mac was a few years old when I bought it, but had to get a new one earlier this year as xCode wouldn’t work on it anymore.

  • Samuel June 10, 2013, 7:25 pm


    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I came to your blog by way of Carter of Blue Cloud Solutions. I’m learning how to build apps myself. I have one in the app store so far but got a tremendous amount of help with it.

    I will be going through all of your blog posts and sharing your content so you can get some Google love.

    BTW: I don’t have a Mac yet. Been using Mac In The Cloud which is a virtual mac server that runs the Mac os and mac applications on your PC. I should have my mac soon but for now this is how I have been learning to code.

  • Stephen September 8, 2013, 7:37 pm

    You don’t have to write any code to program apps in Xcode?? This is good news!
    Step 11 seems pretty easy to me…

  • David Tilly October 14, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Hi Elaine, quick question regarding the P12 certificate, i have a developer who does all this kind of thing for me but i want to learn, would i be right in thinking i could just get him to send me the P12 and click on it and im good to go? many thanks in advance! David.

  • Elaine Heney October 15, 2013, 12:46 am

    Yup! :)

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