Basic Setup

If your app already has an older version of Sparkle or you wish to migrate to Sparkle 2, see upgrading from previous versions. Sandboxed applications are only supported in Sparkle 2.

1. Add the Sparkle framework to your project

If you use Swift Package Manager:

  • In your Xcode project: FileAdd Packages…
  • Enter https://github.com/sparkle-project/Sparkle as the package repository URL
  • Choose the Package Options. The default options will let Xcode automatically update versions of Sparkle 2.

From Xcode’s project navigator, if you right click and show the Sparkle package in Finder, you will find Sparkle’s tools to generate and sign updates in ../artifacts/Sparkle/

If you use CocoaPods:

  • Add pod 'Sparkle' to your Podfile.
  • Add or uncomment use_frameworks! in your Podfile.

If you use Carthage:

  • Add binary "https://sparkle-project.org/Carthage/Sparkle.json" to your Cartfile.
  • Run carthage update
  • Link the Sparkle framework to your app target:
    • Drag the built Carthage/Build/Mac/Sparkle.framework into your Xcode project.
    • Make sure the box is checked for your app’s target in the sheet’s Add to targets list.
  • Make sure the framework is copied into your app bundle:
    • Click on your project in the Project Navigator.
    • Click your target in the project editor.
    • Click on the General tab.
    • In Frameworks, Libraries, and Embedded Content section, change Sparkle.framework to Embed & Sign.

Sparkle’s tools to generate and sign updates are not included from Carthage and need to be grabbed from our latest release.

Sparkle only supports using a binary origin with Carthage because Carthage strips necessary code signing information when building the project from source.

If you want to add Sparkle manually:

  • Get the latest version of Sparkle.
  • Link the Sparkle framework to your app target:
    • Drag Sparkle.framework into your Xcode project.
    • Be sure to check the “Copy items into the destination group’s folder” box in the sheet that appears.
    • Make sure the box is checked for your app’s target in the sheet’s Add to targets list.
  • Make sure the framework is copied into your app bundle:
    • Click on your project in the Project Navigator.
    • Click your target in the project editor.
    • Click on the General tab.
    • In Frameworks, Libraries, and Embedded Content section, change Sparkle.framework to Embed & Sign.
  • In Build Settings tab set “Runpath Search Paths” to @loader_path/../Frameworks (for non-Xcode projects add the flags -Wl,-rpath,@loader_path/../Frameworks). This is not a necessary step in recent versions of Xcode.
  • If you have your own process for copying/packaging your app make sure it preserves symlinks!

Sandboxed applications using Sparkle 2 require additional setup.

Pre-releases when available are published on GitHub. They are also available in Swift Package Manager, CocoaPods, and Carthage too by specifying the pre-release version in your project’s manifest.

A more nightly build from our repository can be downloaded from our GitHub Actions page by selecting a recent workflow commit and downloading the Sparkle-distribution*.tar.xz artifact. Alternatively, you may clone Sparkle’s repository with all its submodules, run make release, and extract the binaries in the resulting Sparkle-*.tar.xz (or .bz2) archive.

2. Set up a Sparkle updater object

These instructions are for regular .app bundles in Cocoa. If you want to use Sparkle from other UI toolkits such as SwiftUI or want to instantiate the updater yourself, please visit our programmatic setup. If you want to update a non-app bundle, such as a Preference Pane or a plug-in, follow step 2 for non-app bundles.

  • Open up your MainMenu.xib.
  • Choose View › Show Library…
  • Type “Object” in the search field under the object library and drag an Object into the left sidebar of the document editor.
  • Select the Object that was just added.
  • Choose View › Inspectors › Identity.
  • Type SPUStandardUpdaterController in the Class box of the Custom Class section in the inspector.
  • If you’d like, make a “Check for Updates…” menu item in the application menu; set its target to the SPUStandardUpdaterController instance and its action to checkForUpdates:.

If you are using Sparkle 1, you will need to use SUUpdater instead of SPUStandardUpdaterController in the above steps. In Sparkle 2, SUUpdater is a deprecated stub. While it is still functional for transitional purposes, new applications will want to migrate to SPUStandardUpdaterController.

3. Segue for security concerns

Since Sparkle is downloading executable code to your users’ systems, you must be very careful about security. To let Sparkle know that a downloaded update is not corrupted and came from you (instead of a malicious attacker), we recommend:

  • Serve updates over HTTPS.
  • Sign the application via Apple’s Developer ID program.
  • Sign the published update archive with Sparkle’s EdDSA (ed25519) signature.
    • Updates using Installer package (.pkg) must be signed with EdDSA.
    • Binary Delta updates must be signed with EdDSA.
    • Updates of preference panes and plugins must be signed with EdDSA.
    • Updates to regular application bundles that are signed with Apple’s Developer ID program are strongly recommended to be signed with EdDSA for better security and fallback. Sparkle now deprecates not using EdDSA for these updates.

EdDSA (ed25519) signatures

To prepare signing with EdDSA signatures:

Run ./bin/generate_keys tool (from the Sparkle distribution root). This needs to be done only once. This tool will do two things:

  • It will generate a private key and save it in your login Keychain on your Mac. You don’t need to do anything with it, but do keep it safe. See further notes below if you happen to lose your private key.
  • It will print your public key to embed into applications. Copy that key (it’s a base64-encoded string). You can run ./bin/generate_keys again to see your public key at any time.

Then add your public key to your app’s Info.plist as a SUPublicEDKey property. Note that for new projects created with Xcode 12 or later, this file may be in the Info tab under your target settings.

Here is an example run of ./bin/generate_keys:

A key has been generated and saved in your keychain. Add the `SUPublicEDKey` key to
the Info.plist of each app for which you intend to use Sparkle for distributing
updates. It should appear like this:

    <key>SUPublicEDKey</key>
    <string>pfIShU4dEXqPd5ObYNfDBiQWcXozk7estwzTnF9BamQ=</string>

You can use the -x private-key-file and -f private-key-file options to export and import the keys respectively when transferring keys to another Mac. Otherwise we recommend keeping the keys inside your Mac’s keychain. Be sure to keep them safe and not lose them (they will be erased if your keychain or system is erased).

If your keys are lost however, you can still sign new updates for Developer ID signed applications through key rotation. Note this will not work for Installer package based updates or for applications that are not code signed. In those cases you may lose the ability to sign new updates.

Please visit Migrating to EdDSA from DSA if you are still providing DSA signatures so you can learn how to stop supporting them.

Apple code signing

If you are code-signing your application via Apple’s Developer ID program, Sparkle will ensure the new version’s author matches the old version’s. Sparkle also performs shallow (but not deep) validation for testing if the new application’s code signature is valid.

  • Note that embedding the Sparkle.framework into the bundle of a Developer ID application requires that you code-sign the framework and its helper tools with your Developer ID keys. Xcode should do this automatically if you create an archive via Product › Archive and Distribute App choosing Developer ID method of distribution.
  • You can diagnose code signing problems with codesign --deep -vvv --verify <path-to-app> for code signing validity, spctl -a -t exec -vv <path-to-app> for Gatekeeper validity, and by checking logs in the Console.app. See Apple’s Code Signing in Depth for more code signing details.

Rotating signing keys

For regular application updates, if you both code-sign your application with Apple’s Developer ID program and include a public EdDSA key for signing your update archive, Sparkle allows rotating keys by issuing a new update that changes either your Apple code signing certificate or your EdDSA keys.

We recommend rotating keys only when necessary like if you need to change your Developer ID certificate, lose access to your EdDSA private key, or need to change (Ed)DSA keys due to migrating away from DSA.

4. Distributing your App

We recommend distributing your app in Xcode by creating a Product › Archive and Distribute App choosing Developer ID method of distribution. Using Xcode’s Archive Organizer will ensure Sparkle’s helper tools are code signed properly for distribution. In automated environments, this can instead be done using xcodebuild archive and xcodebuild -exportArchive.

If you distribute your app on your website as a Apple-certificate-signed disk image (DMG):

  • Add an /Applications symlink in your DMG, to encourage the user to copy the app out of it.
  • Make sure the DMG is signed with a Developer ID and use macOS 10.11.5 or later to sign it (an older OS may not sign correctly). Signed DMG archives are backwards compatible.

If you distribute your app on your website as a ZIP or a tar archive (due to app translocation):

  • Avoid placing your app inside another folder in your archive, because copying of the folder as a whole doesn’t remove the quarantine.
  • Avoid putting more than just the single app in the archive.

If your app is running from a read-only mount, you can encourage (if you want) your user to move the app into /Applications. Some frameworks, although not officially sanctioned here, exist for this purpose. Note Sparkle will not by default automatically disturb your user if an update cannot be performed.

Sparkle supports updating from ZIP archives, tarballs, disk images (DMGs), and installer packages. While you can reuse the same archive for distribution of your app on your website, we recommend serving ZIPs or tarballs (e.g. tar.bz2) for updates because they are the fastest and most reliable formats for Sparkle. Disk images (DMGs) can be significantly slower to extract programmatically and sometimes be less reliable to attach/detach. Installer packages should rarely be used for distribution or updates (i.e. only for kexts, but not for installing daemons or installing system extensions).

5. Publish your appcast

Sparkle uses appcasts to get information about software updates. An appcast is an RSS feed with some extra information for Sparkle’s purposes.

  • Add a SUFeedURL property to your Info.plist; set its value to a URL where your appcast will be hosted, e.g. https://yourcompany.example.com/appcast.xml. We strongly encourage you to use HTTPS URLs for the appcast.
  • Note that your app bundle must have an incrementing and properly formatted CFBundleVersion key in your Info.plist. Sparkle uses this to compare and determine the latest version of your bundle.

If you update regular app bundles and you have set up EdDSA signatures, you can use a tool to generate appcasts automatically:

  1. Build your app and compress it (e.g. in a ZIP/tar.bz2/DMG archive), and put the archive in a new folder. This folder will be used to store all your future updates.
  2. Run generate_appcast tool from Sparkle’s distribution archive specifying the path to the folder with update archives. Allow it to access the Keychain if it asks for it (it’s needed to generate signatueres in the appcast).

    ./bin/generate_appcast /path/to/your/updates_folder/

  3. The tool will generate the appcast file (using filename from SUFeedURL) and also *.delta update files for faster incremental updates. Upload your archives, the delta updates, and the appcast to your server.

When generating the appcast, if an .html file exists with the same name as the archive, then it will added as the releaseNotesLink. Run generate_appcast -h for a full overview and list of supported options.

You can also create the appcast file manually (not recommended):

  • Make a copy of the sample appcast included in the Sparkle distribution.
  • Read the sample appcast to familiarize yourself with the format, then edit out all the items and add one for the new version of your app by following the instructions at Publishing an update.

6. Test Sparkle out

  • Use an older verison of your app, or if you don’t have one yet, make one seem older by editing Info.plist and change CFBundleVersion to a lower version.
    • A genuine older version of the app is required to test delta updates, because Sparkle will ignore the delta update if the app doesn’t match update’s checksum.
    • Editing CFBundleVersion of the latest version of the app is useful for testing the latest version of Sparkle framework.
  • Run the app, then quit. Sparkle doesn’t ask the user about updates until the second launch, in order to make your users’ first-launch impression cleaner.
  • Run the app again. The update process should proceed as expected.

Update process will be logged to Console.app. If anything goes wrong, you should find detailed explanation in the log.

Next steps

That’s it! You’re done! You don’t have to do any more. But you might want to: