I wish I had known this when I first started because I delayed myself for 3 years before biting the bullet and buying a Mac.
Had I known about running Xcode on Windows or about the solutions below, I might’ve started building iPhone apps much earlier!
Rent a Mac
Before committing to buying a new Mac, you can actually “rent” one for development. You’ll remotely access the Mac and Xcode through your PC.
It’ll be like having the Mac desktop in a window on your Windows Desktop.
The really nice thing about this option is that the cost is really low and it’s the fastest option to get up and running.
If you decide that app development isn’t for you, you just cancel your plan.
These guys were featured in the recent Apple keynote when they introduced the updated Mac Mini! They have the newest Macs available.
(Use coupon code “CODEWITHCHRIS” for 50% off your first month. If you do, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll get a small kick back at no extra expense to you so thank you for supporting my site!)
If you go down this route for iOS app development, make sure you get my Xcode cheatsheet with references and keyboard shortcuts for Windows users.
There are a couple other companies that provide this service:
This is the most well known service out of the three. You won’t have to install Xcode because it comes preinstalled. You can also do pay-as-you-go so it’s a pretty low commitment. Some people complain that it’s slow but you can try it out for yourself since it’s only about a buck an hour!
XcodeClub is run by Daniel who is a passionate developer himself. From the reviews I see, the service is fast and friendly. The pricing is less flexible than MacInCloud and you’ll have to commit to at least a month.
If you’re a little more technically savvy, you can use virtualization software and run a “virtual Mac” on your PC.
The services above are essentially doing the same thing on their servers and then they charge you a fee to access the virtual machine.
By setting it up yourself on your own PC, you essentially cut the middle man out of the equation.
Unfortunately it does take a little bit of technical know-how to get this up and running.
The two most popular pieces of software to do virtualization are VirtualBox and VMWare Workstation.
You can download them below and then use Google to find a guide on how to install the latest MacOS (Mojave) with either VirtualBox or VMWare Workstation.
After that, spin up your new virtual Mac and download Xcode. This is as close as you’ll get to running actual Xcode on Windows!
VirtualBox is open source software which means that it’s free. That probably explains why it’s a lot more popular than VMWare Workstation when it comes to running MacOS on your Windows machine!
5. VMWare Workstation
Unfortunately you’ll have to pay for this piece of software and at the time of this writing, a license costs about half the price of a brand new Mac Mini which is perfectly suitable for iOS app development. I would recommend you try VirtualBox first or try to buy a used Mac Mini.
Build a “Hackintosh”
You can also build a “Hackintosh” which is a PC that has been customized to run MacOS.
This requires the most effort out of all the options presented so far but it can work for someone who wants a separate physical computer running MacOS.
A great resource for all things Hackintosh. The first How-To section contains links to a number of great tutorials for building your own Hackintosh and installing High Sierra.
7. Hackintosh Subreddit
I love looking for Reddit communities on anything that I’m interested in because there are always interesting conversations happening. Reddit provides a way to have a dialogue with like minded individuals, to get help and to help others!
8. Hackintosh Articles on 9to5mac.com
I included this link because it contains up to date news and articles for Hackintosh builds.
Third Party Solutions
Lastly, there are many third party solutions that you can use to do iOS development on Windows.
You won’t be using Xcode in these solutions but you’ll be able to generate an app that can run on iOS devices.
Check out these great Xcode alternatives:
9. React Native
Use C# to build a mobile app that you can deploy natively to Android, iOS and Windows.