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A highly-opinionated Xcode project template to build a new macOS app with.
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DefaultApp README

DefaultApp is an open source starting point – a template - for native macOS developers.

I maintained it in Objective-C for over a decade before finally porting it to Swift in 2018. Anytime I start a new app – big or small, whether or not it’s something I plan on releasing publicly or if it’s just a small prototype or utility app I’m building for myself – I start with this project.

What's Included

  • It builds a native macOS app targeting 10.14 Mojave and 10.15 Catalina.
  • A hardened-runtime target ready for Notarization and designed to be distributed directly to your customers.
  • A second, duplicate target that is Sandboxed and ready for distribution via the Mac App Store.
  • Conditional build flags that let you differentiate between debug and production builds as well as Mac App Store and direct to consumer builds.
  • It also builds an iOS companion app target for iOS 13 with shared code between the two platforms.
  • Default NSWindowControllers for a primary app window and Preferences window are wired up and ready to go. They're also built using xibs because storyboards on macOS are dumb.
  • The app is AppleScript enabled by default and includes a sample .sdef scripting dictionary because you can pry AppleScript support out of my cold, dead hands.
  • Two helper classes that make building a typical macOS source list easy.
  • A few common controls and NSView subclasses that I find myself using in nearly every project.
  • Sane Xcode defaults for settings such as enabling insecure HTTP requests in web views but not in the rest of the app and also making the project compatible with agvtool. Little things such as those that are helpful but nearly impossible to google unless you know what you don't know.
  • Pre-configured to check for app updates with Sparkle. (And in the Mac App Store target, Sparkle is completely removed to appease the App Review gods.)
  • A fair amount of other miscellaneous code and helper extensions that always come up and no one wants to write from scratch each time.
  • Pre-written Podfile and Cartfiles that include the usual open source libraries I include in all of my projects. (I would have migrated to the Swift Package Manager instead, but not everything is available through it yet.)


  1. Clone this repo.

  2. Inside you'll find a small shell script called This will let you rename the project to something other than DefaultApp. To use it, just run this command in a command prompt:

    ./ MyAppName

If all goes well, everything will be renamed properly. Note: I haven't tested that command using a name with spaces, so YMMV.

  1. The app, by default, includes a few command open source libraries that I typically use in my apps such as AlamoFire, SwiftyJSON, and AppCenter. You can install these by doing the typical Cocoapods or Carthage dance. Or, just feel free to remove them entirely.

Feedback and Contributions

I'd love to hear your feedback - good or bad. And pull requests and bug reports are always appreciated.

However, I make no apologies for the fact that the choices made in this project are highly opinionated based on my 13 years as an independent developer working primarily on my own software. So, like the accompanying blog post says...

don’t use this as the basis for a billion dollar corporation’s enterprise app. Or with a team of “100 engineers” “solving hard problems”. But if you’re a one-person development shop or a team of just two or three engineers building a typical macOS shoebox or document based app? Please take a look.

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