The UIAutomation Driver for iOS

Note: This driver is DEPRECATED and should not be used unless absolutely necessary. The information in this doc may not keep up to date with reality, and the driver will be removed in a future version of Appium. To begin iOS automation with Appium today, please use the XCUITest Driver instead.

Appium's former method for iOS app automation was based on UIAutomation, an Apple-provided framework that shipped with the iOS SDK until iOS 10, when it was removed. UIAutomation was one of the tools included in Apple's Instruments profiling system, and provided a JavaScript API that ran synchronously in the context of a single app. The Appium UIAutomation driver established an asynchronous, session-based WebDriver front end for this API.

Development of the UIAutomation driver is done at the appium-ios-driver repo.

Requirements and Support

In addition to Appium's general requirements:


The way to start a session using the UIAutomation driver is to set the platformName capability in your new session request to the value of iOS. Of course, you must also include appropriate platformVersion, deviceName, and app capabilities, at a minimum.


The UIAutomation driver supports a number of standard Appium capabilities, but has an additional set of capabilities that work for this driver only (see the iOS section of the aforementioned doc).

To automate Safari instead of your own application, leave the app capability empty and instead set the browserName capability to Safari.


To see the various commands Appium supports, and specifically for information on how the commands map to behaviors for the UIAutomation driver, see the API Reference.

Simulator Setup

(Note that due to limitations of Xcode and the iOS simulator, only one simulator may be open, and automated, at any given time. For multiple simulator support, you will need to upgrade to the XCUITest driver).

  1. To allow the iOS simulator to be automated by Instruments, you need to modify the authorization database for the system. Appium provides an easy way to do this by installing and running an authorization script:

    npm install -g authorize-ios sudo authorize-ios

  2. By default, Instruments-based automation is limited by the inclusion of a 1-second hard-coded delay between commands, implemented for obscure reasons by Apple's engineers. There is a way around this limitation called instruments-without-delay (IWD). IWD ships with Appium for Xcode versions < 7. For 7.x and up, IWD must be installed manually by the user in advance of using Appium. The way to do this is as follows:

    • Clone the appium-ios-driver repository.
    • Inside the repo, run the script included in the bin dir, passing it several arguments: (1) the path to the Xcode app you are using. (2) The path to the appium-instruments directory. For example:

      sh ./bin/ /Applications/ /Users/me/appium-instruments/

  3. For best results, launch each simulator you wish to use and ensure the following:

    • The soft keyboard is enabled (Command+K in the Simulator app)
    • UIAutomation is enabled in the Developer settings menu
    • There is not more than one simulator with the same name in Xcode's "Devices" organizer

Real Device Setup

Running tests on real devices is considerably more complicated due to code signing and additional workarounds to Apple limitations. The basic process for a successful automation strategy using this driver are as follows:

  1. Build your app with a Debug configuration, for the specific type of real device you will run the test on, ensuring that the app is also signed for running on your specific device. For example:

    xcodebuild -sdk <iphoneos> -target <target_name> -configuration Debug \ CODE_SIGN_IDENTITY="iPhone Developer: Mister Smith" \ PROVISIONING_PROFILE="XXXXXXXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXX"

  2. Install the built app (usually now located in a build directory specified in Xcode) to your test device yourself, ensuring it exists on the device and there are no signing issues. There are a number of methods for installing apps onto devices. One is to just use Xcode itself. Another is to use the ideviceinstaller tool provided as part of the libimobiledevice suite. A third is to use ios-deploy. Here's an example for ideviceinstaller:


    first install ideviceinstaller, using Homebrew (

    brew install libimobiledevice ideviceinstaller -u -i ```

  3. Use the bundle ID of your application as the value of the app capability.

  4. Use the UDID of your device as the udid capability.
  5. As above, ensure that UI Automation is enabled in the Developer settings.

Following these steps should ensure your success! If you're using newer versions of Xcode (7.x, for example), you may wish to consult the XCUITest Driver Real Device Docs as they may contain some pertinent information as well.

Real Device Hybrid / Web Testing

For hybrid and web testing, Appium requires the use of the Remote Debugging Protocol to send JavaScript to execute inside a web view. For real iOS devices, this protocol is encrypted and access must be facilitated using a 3rd-party tool, provided by Google, called ios-webkit-debug-proxy (IWDP). For information on installing and using IWDP within Appium, check out the IWDP doc.

For web testing, i.e., tests that run in the Safari browser, we have another hurdle to jump. On real devices, apps that are not signed by the developer cannot be instrumented with UIAutomation. Safari is one such app. Thus we have a helper app called SafariLauncher, which can be signed by the developer. Its sole purpose upon launching is to turn around and launch Safari, which can then be automated via the Remote Debugger in conjunction with IWDP. Unfortunately you cannot, in this case, move into the native context and do any automation of the browser itself.

For instructions on setting up SafariLauncher, check out the SafariLauncher doc.

Files generated by iOS test runs

Testing on iOS generates files that can sometimes get large. These include logs, temporary files, and derived data from Xcode runs. Generally the following locations are where they are found, should they need to be deleted:


Running iOS tests using Jenkins

First download the jenkins-cli.jar and verify that the Mac successfully connects to Jenkins master. Ensure you've run the authorize-ios command mentioned above.


java -jar jenkins-cli.jar \
 -s \
 -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa \
 on-premise-executor \
 -fsroot ~/jenkins \
 -labels osx \
 -name mac_appium

Next define a LaunchAgent for Jenkins to launch automatically on login. A LaunchDaemon will not work because daemons don't have GUI access. Make sure the plist doesn't contain the SessionCreate or User key as that may prevent tests from running. You'll see a Failed to authorize rights error if misconfigured.

$ sudo nano /Library/LaunchAgents/
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Finally set the owner, permissions, and then start the agent.

sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchAgents/
sudo chmod 644 /Library/LaunchAgents/

launchctl load /Library/LaunchAgents/
launchctl start