AltStore, as the name suggests, is an alternative store for downloading apps and game emulators on your iPhone which Apple doesn’t allow through the App Store. Basically, it lets you sideload apps on an iPhone without going through the pains of jailbreaking a device.
AltStore is available for free and works with both macOS and Windows based computers. This article concerns setup of AltStore on iPhone through a Windows PC.
Once you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your PC, download the AltStore installer files from the link below. It’ll download an
altinstaller.zip file on your PC.
Unzip/extract the altinstaller.zip file. Then double-click the “Setup.exe” file from the extracted files and follow the on-screen instructions to install AltServer on your PC.
After installing AltServer, connect your iPhone to the PC with USB to lightning cable. If this is the first time you’re connecting the iPhone to this PC, make sure you add it as a trusted device when your iPhone asks for such a permission.
Launch AltServer on your Windows PC. Hit the “Start” button and type “AltServer”, then open/launch the app by either clicking AltServer app from search results or the “Open” link on the right panel.
AltServer launches silently in the background, the software won’t launch in a separate window. To access it, click the app icon from hidden icons of background apps running on your PC.
Click the little icon before the network icon on your Windows Taskbar to see all apps running in the background. Then click the AltServer app icon (a diamond-shaped icon) as shown in the screenshot below.
Installing AltStore on iPhone
From the AltServer options, hover over to the “Install AltStore” option and click on your iPhone name.
This will open up a window on your PC asking for your Apple ID and Password to connect to Apple’s server. The developer mentions that “Your Apple ID and password are not saved and are only sent to Apple for authentication”. But if you’re not comfortable sharing your password, then create an app-specific password and use that.
To avoid sharing your Apple ID and password (even an app-specific one), you can create another Apple ID for the sake of using with AltStore only.
Fill-in your Apple ID and password details and then click the “Install” button.
This will install AltStore on your iPhone. The “AltStore” app icon will appear on your iPhone home screen in a few seconds after you hit the Install button. If you can’t spot it, search for it by swiping down on the home screen.
Tap the AltStore app icon to launch it. You may see a “Untrusted Developer” warning with your email address (the one you used as your Apple ID for installing AltStore).
This is because AltStore is installed on your iPhone with a developer certificate from your own Apple ID. It does this make it much more difficult for Apple to disable the app.
To add the certificate as a trusted developer on your iPhone, open the “Settings” app and go to “General”, then “Device Management”.
Tap the Apple ID email address you used to install AltStore in the Device Management screen. Then tap “Trust [Apple ID email address]” to add it as a trusted developer on your iPhone. If you get a confirmation pop-up, tap “Trust” again.
Now go back to your iPhone’s home screen and open the AltStore app. It’ll launch like any other app on your device.
Configuring AltStore app on iPhone
Once you have AltStore running on your iPhone. The first thing you need to do is sign-in into the app using your Apple ID and password.
Use the same Apple ID that you used to install the AltStore app from AltServer on your PC in the instructions above. If you used an app-specific password before, use the same password again.
According to the developer, “Your credentials will be stored securely in this device’s Keychain and sent only to Apple for authentication.”
To sign in with your Apple ID in the AltStore, tap the “Settings” tab on the bottom row of the app, then tap “Sign in with Apple ID” under Account section. Finally, insert your Apple ID and password, and hit the “Sign in” button.
Enable Wi-Fi Sync in iTunes
To let AltStore automatically refresh apps in the background, enable WiFi sync for your iPhone in iTunes.
Open iTunes on your PC, then connect your iPhone to the computer with a USB to Lightning cable. Then “click the iPhone icon” below iTunes toolbar options to access the iPhone summary page in iTunes.
On the summary page, scroll to the bottom and tick the checkbox for “Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi” under Options section and hit the Apply button.
Keep AltServer running on your PC
Make sure that “AltServer” is always running in the background on your PC. This will let you download and install apps from AltStore on your iPhone, as well as automatically refresh the apps in the background with ease.
Downloading apps from AltStore
Downloading apps from AltStore is same experience as downloading from the official App Store on iPhone.
Open the AltStore app and tap the “Browse” tab on the bottom bar. Then either click on an app title to view more info about it, or just tap the “FREE” button next to the app’s name to download/install it on your iPhone.
The download progress is displayed inside the same button that you used to initiate the download.
If you get an error stating “Can’t connect to AltServer”, then restart AltServer on your PC and try again.
Once an app is installed, it’ll be accessible from the iPhone home screen like any other app does.
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