Technical Q&A QA1765

How to Match a Crash Report to a Build

Q:  How can I know if the build that I am testing is the same build that generated a particular crash report?

A: If you have difficulty reproducing a problem the first step is to make sure that you are testing the same build that exhibited the problem.

Every executable has a build UUID, that uniquely identifies it. Crash logs include the build UUID of the app that crashed and all libraries that were loaded during the crash. This document describes how to find and compare the build UUID in a crash report and a deployed app. If you received a crash log from App Review, it's important to make sure you are testing the same build you submitted — not testing the build that was submitted is a common reason for App Store rejections.

For more information, see:

iOS: QA1764: How to reproduce bugs reported against App Store submissions

OS X: QA1778: How to reproduce bugs reported against Mac App Store submissions.

1) Find the build UUID in a Crash Report

The first line in the "Binary Images:" section of a crash report includes the build UUID, inside <>, of the app that crashed.

The line ends with the full path of the app's executable on the system.

The last parts of this path, after the CONTAINER_UUID, points to the executable inside the app bundle, and will be useful in Step 2.

Listing 1  Crash Report Excerpt

$ grep --after-context=2 "Binary Images:" Example.crash
Binary Images:
   0xb6000 - 0xb7fff +Example armv7 <270a9b9d7a333a4a9f1aaf8186f81394> /var/mobile/Applications/28D4F177-D312-4D3B-A76C-C2ACB4CB7DAD/
0x2feb5000 - 0x2fed6fff  dyld armv7 <4a817f3e0def30d5ae2032157d889c1d> /usr/lib/dyld

Here, the build UUID is 270a9b9d7a333a4a9f1aaf8186f81394, and the path to the app's executable is 28D4F177-D312-4D3B-A76C-C2ACB4CB7DAD is the CONTAINER_UUID, and can be ignored.

2) Find the build UUID of an app binary

You can find the build UUID of an executable file using the dwarfdump command line tool. These instructions will give you the build UUID of any app. You do not need to a crash log for this step.

Listing 2  Terminal command to print an executable's build UUID

$ xcrun dwarfdump --uuid <PATH_TO_APP_EXECUTABLE>

The file at PATH_TO_APP_EXECUTABLE must be an executable file, not an .app bundle or .ipa file.

If you have a .ipa file, you need to extract the .app bundle inside of it. Change the file extension from .ipa to .zip, then uncompress the zipped file, and get the .app bundle from the resulting Payload directory.

To look inside an .app bundle, right-click it in Finder, and choose "Show Package Contents".

iOS apps usually have their executable file in the first level of their .app bundle. Look for a file with a "Kind" of "Unix Executable File" in Finder.

OS X apps usually have their executable file inside the directory Contents/MacOS/ inside their .app bundle.

Listing 3  Example of finding the build UUID of an IPA file, using Terminal

$ # Give a copy of the ipa file a .zip extension.
$ cp Example.ipa
$ # open the zip file
$ unzip
   creating: Payload/
   creating: Payload/
   creating: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
   creating: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
 extracting: Payload/
  inflating: Payload/
$ # go look inside the Payload directory to find the app
$ cd Payload
$ ls
$ # print the build UUID of the app's executable file
$ xcrun dwarfdump --uuid
UUID: 270A9B9D-7A33-3A4A-9F1A-AF8186F81394 (armv7)

In this example, the app's build UUID is 270A9B9D-7A33-3A4A-9F1A-AF8186F81394.

More Than One Build UUID

You may see dwarfdump print more than one build UUID. This means the executable is a fat binary (also known as a "multi-architecture" or "universal" binary). To take advantage of newer CPU optimizations, while staying compatible with older hardware, fat binaries combine different builds (called slices) of the app into one executable. Each slice is built differently for each CPU architecture. When a fat binary is run, only one slice from it will actually be executed.

Differences in a how a slice was built can change how a bug behaves. For example, variables may be stored at different offsets in memory when building for different CPUs. So the same bug (accidentally storing one byte past the end of a buffer) could appear to change the value of a different variable, when running a different slice.

dwarfdump will print the architecture of a slice, inside () next to each slice's build UUID.

Listing 4  Example of an app with multiple build UUIDs

$ xcrun dwarfdump --uuid
UUID: 270A9B9D-7A33-3A4A-9F1A-AF8186F81394 (armv7)
UUID: 7711EC60-C0B2-3608-A539-182C77AE01ED (armv7s)

In this example, the app also has a build UUID of 7711EC60-C0B2-3608-A539-182C77AE01ED for the armv7s architecture.

If your app has multiple build UUIDs, repeat the next step with each of them to see if any of them match the crash report.

3) Compare Build UUIDs

The UUID printed by dwarfdump is in a slightly different format than is used in the crash log, it is UPPERCASE and includes four "-" characters. For your sanity, you may want to convert the strings to the same format before comparing them.

Listing 5  Example of using tr to print a build UUID in lowercase, without dashes, for comparison

$ xcrun dwarfdump --uuid | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]' | tr -d '-'
uuid: 270a9b9d7a333a4a9f1aaf8186f81394 (armv7)
$ # Now that the build UUID is in the crash log format,
$ # we can just search for it in the crash log to confirm a match
$ grep 270a9b9d7a333a4a9f1aaf8186f81394 Example.crash
   0xb6000 - 0xb7fff +Example armv7 <270a9b9d7a333a4a9f1aaf8186f81394> /var/mobile/Applications/28D4F177-D312-4D3B-A76C-C2ACB4CB7DAD/

In this example, the build UUID was in the crash log, proving that exact build generated the crash log.

If you cannot locate an archived version of the app, you may want to consider making another build by following these steps for an iOS app, or these steps a Mac OS X app, and re-testing or resubmitting it.

Related Documents

How to reproduce bugs reported against Mac App Store submissions

How to reproduce bugs reported against iOS App Store submissions

Testing iOS App Updates

Understanding and Analyzing iOS Application Crash Reports.

For steps to find iOS crash reports, see Debugging Deployed iOS Apps.

For more information about application archiving, see the Distributing Applications section of the Xcode 4 User Guide.

Document Revision History


The term "build identifier" was used in earlier versions of this document to refer to the "build UUID" of an app.


New document that describes how to check what specific build generated a crash report.