XCode – Debug macOS PreferencesPane applications

You need to build a System preference panel extension for your app but you’re unable to debug it from XCode due to Apple System Integrity lock?

Let’s see how!

PreferencePane macOS app extension

But how to debug this extension?

Latest macOS block the execution or the debug of all system application. Now all apps are signed and if you try to attach a debugger you’ll receive this error:

Message from debugger: cannot attach to process due to System Integrity Protection

To avoid this kind of error, I suggest a simple trick. Use it only for debugging your plugin.

  1. Go in /Applications and duplicate the “System Preferences.app”.
  2. Rename it to “SystemPreferences_nosign.app”
  3. Open terminal, go to the Application folder and use:
$ codesign -s - -f SystemPreferences_nosign.app

Well done!

Now in XCode, select as Run Process, your new “nosigned” application. Build and run (debug)!


Alberto Pasca

Software engineer @ Pirelli & C. S.p.A. with a strong passion for mobile  development, security, and connected things.