How to discover the UDID of an iPad without having iTunes

Mon, Dec 9, 2013

Digital Publishing, How-to, Learn

Today I was asked by an agency of a large customer how to discover the UDID (serial number) of an iPad without using iTunes.

Background

The reason for wanting the UDID is simple: the agency is creating a test app using App Studio and wants to send the customer a branded iOS test app. To do that without hacking (jail-breaking) the iPad, you need the UDID (basically the extended serial number) of the device so you can put that into Apple’s developer portal to create the correct provisioning profiles.

Typically you’d plug the iPad into a Mac or Windows computer, launch iTunes and copy the UDID from there (click on the Serial Number field, which displays the UDID, and press Command+C). Here’s what that looks like:

itunes_udid

The problem is that in many large enterprises, the IT department doesn’t allow personal applications such as iTunes on your computer and also doesn’t allow you to install an application (such as iTunes) yourself.

What won’t work (and don’t believe them) — aka fake UDID

There are many apps in the App Store that promise to give you the UDID. Don’t believe that. Yes, in the past this was possible, however Apple has removed that ability, probably as some app creators misused that and tracked what you were doing (a UDID is a unique number that you can identify).

It’s easy to find out if a UDID is fake — if such an app gives you back a UDID starting with “ffff” then it is a fake ID. (Apple’s iOS will generate a fake ID for apps that are still using the old API to get the UDID).

 

How to discover a UDID without having iTunes

 

If you are on OS X:

You can use any of these methods:

A: Plug the iPad into a Mac and use “System Report”:

  1. Using a USB cable connect your iPad to any OS X computer.
  2. Go to “About this Mac” (under the Apple menu)
  3. Click “More Info…”
  4. Click “System Report” which will open “System Information”
  5. In the left sidebar navigate to the section “USB” and select it
  6. You should see your iPad (or iPod or iPhone) there.
  7. In the section of your device it says “Serial Number” which lists a 40-character text string. That’s your UDID.
  8. Here’s a screenshot of the USB section:

systeminformation_udid

 

B: Use “Apple Configurator” or “iPhone Configuration Utility”

  • If you have “iPhone Configuration Utility” (ICU) or “Apple Configurator” (AC) installed, that also lists the UDIDs of all iOS devices that have been connected once (while ICU/AC was running of course). So launch it and plug in your device.
  • Alternatively you can ask your IT, they probably have the ICU/AC tool and have the UDID present.
  • Here’s a screenshot of the ICU (click to enlarge):

icu_udid

 

C: If you’ve ever used iTunes to back up your iPad

If you had iTunes previously installed and had ever backed up the iPad to your Mac, then there’s a way to find out the UDID by looking into the file system of OS X. In the Finder, go to /User/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup
In that folder you’ll find one or more folders — one for each device you backed up. The folder name is the UDID.

 

D: Use a Test App Service or website using certificates

  • You can also use apps or websites that install certificates, which tell you the UDID. Using websites you don’t know is always a bad idea — I found one that looks trustworthy, but as I do not know the company, I cannot recommend them, even though they might be totally trustworthy. If you want to try them yourself (and I take NO responsibility for what happens!), this is the URL: http://get.udid.io
  • You can try an “app” (it’s a Web app) that installs certificates. The one I have used often to distribute apps without having to install certificates is TestFlight: http://testflightapp.com

However, both of these methods require you to have the password to install certificates on your iOS device — which in this scenario you probably don’t have. :-)

 

E: More?

If you know of more methods, please let me know and I’ll add them.

 

If you are on Windows:

You can use any of these methods:

A: Plug the iPad into a computer and use the registry

  1. Using a USB cable connect your iPad to any Windows computer. I am using Windows 7, but it should be similar when using other versions of Windows.
  2. IMPORTANT: in the following steps DO NOT modify anything, as changing the registry might break your Windows installation.
  3. Start Regedit (e.g. by clicking on the Start button, and typing “RegEdit” in the search field)
  4. Navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USB (it’s basically a folder structure)
  5. You will see all USB devices in there — find the one that’s your iPad. It might say “Apple iPad”, in my case it had a cryptic name, so I had to open all sub folders under “USB”. However on the level below there’s already a folder with a 40-character string and by selecting that it says “Friendly Name” = “Apple iPad”.
  6. Copy (DO NOT MODIFY) that name (e.g. right clicking and selecting “Copy Key Name”). When you paste it in a text editor, the UDID is the last 40 characters.
  7. Here’s a screenshot of RegEdit:

regedit_udid

 

B: Use iPhone Configuration Utility

As far as I know, Apple Configurator isn’t available for Windows (yet?). Instead, use iPhone Configuration Utility for Windows: start it and plug in your device. For details see above (under OS X): it is the same procedure.

You can find ICU for Windows here:  http://support.apple.com/downloads/#iphone%20configuration%20utility

 

C: Finding out when having done a backup once

If you had iTunes previously installed and had ever done a backup locally, then there’s a way to discover the UDID by looking into the file system of Windows here: Users/User/AppData/Roaming/AppleComputer/MobileSync/Backup
There you’ll find a folder for every iOS device you’ve backed up. The folder name is the UDID.

 

D: Use a Test App Service or website using certificates

  • You can also use apps or websites that install certificates, which tell you the UDID. Using websites you don’t know is always a bad idea — I found one that looks trustworthy, but as I do not know the company, I cannot recommend them, even though they might be totally trustworthy. If you want to try them yourself (and I take NO responsibility for what happens!), this is the URL: http://get.udid.io
  • You can try an “app” (it’s a Web app) that installs certificates. The one I have used often to distribute apps without having to install certificates is TestFlight: http://testflightapp.com

However, both of these methods require you to have the password to install certificates on your iOS device — which in this scenario you probably don’t have. :-)

 

E: More?

If you know of more methods, please let me know and I’ll add them.

 

Footnote: For security reasons I blurred my UDID in all screenshots.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 68 posts on Planet Quark.

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people. - Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software. Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark's interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup. - Matthias is a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences worldwide, helping both individual designers and large organizations to uncover the possibilities and implications of digital publishing, including the business considerations, design and technology implications, and business capabilities offered by digital design and publishing tools. - Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark's Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

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4 Responses to “How to discover the UDID of an iPad without having iTunes”

  1. Vladimir Ignatev Says:

    Easiest solution is http://udid.io/ Open the site on your iPad or iPhone and it will show you UDID of your device securely. In one tap.

  2. Rachel Ratliff Says:

    Vladimir – This is a very easy app that works. However, I’m concerned, and my users will be concerned, that it says my phone’s profile will be changed if I install this. How will it change the profile, and why, and can i trust this?

  3. jev Says:

    Nice article, thx

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    […] to let it be, and went to bed. Then today, I wanted to give google another chance, and came across this page: Planet Quark, which gives several methods of finding the […]

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