Deployment of an iOS app as an enterprise application

Apple offers two ways of installing an app on an iOS device: Apple AppStore or the deployment as an enterprise application. Since many companies want to have control over the version of an iOS app, the deployment option as an enterprise application is the desired way to go. The software vendor is providing a so called unsigned archive of the app which is a precompiled but not executable version of the application that must be prepared to be deployed on an iOS device using MDM tools such as MobileIron.
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Create an .ipa-File from an unsigned archive

Prerequisite: Active membership of the „Apple Enterprise Developer Program“ ($299 per year).

The following steps are required for creating a deployable and signed ipa-file out of an unsigned archive:

  • Certificate of the Apple Developer Account
  • Private key of the certificate
  • Distribution Provisioning Profile
  • Xcode
  • The following section will provide you a step-by-step guide to create the .ipa-file:
    1. Login to your developer account under
    2. Navigate to the Developer Member Center under the section „Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles“ to create your developer certificate (public/private key pair) that is needed for signing the archive
    3. Create a „In-House and ad-Hoc“ certificate by creating a CSR file (Certificate Signing Request) using the KeyChain-Access tool on your Mac
    4. Create a Distribution Provisioning Profile for your certificate and the app that should be deployed
    5. Open Xcode and check if the Distribution Provisioning Profile is installed correctly
    6. Import the unsigned archive into Xcode – the archive should be visible under Window Organizer Archives
    7. Create the .ipa-file by clicking on the „Distribute“ button. Make sure that „Save for Enterprise of Ad-Hoc Deployment“ is selected as the distribution method
    8. Select your certificate under „Code Signing Identity“
    9. Accept the access attempt to your private key from the KeyChain tool
    10. Save the .ipa-file for distribution by selecting „Save for Enterprise Distribution“ and specify an URL and title