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Using Symbolication to Get Better iOS Crash Reports

Getting better iOS crash reports

When an app crashes, a crash report containing the app conditions leading up to the crash is generated. With Instabug’s Crash Reporting, you can have detailed crash reports sent to your dashboard instantly. Each Instabug crash report captures a detailed snapshot of the running environment, the different threads’ states, the steps to reproduce the crash, the network request logs, and more.

Each Instabug report includes all stack trace information on all running threads. The most important frames in the stack trace are highlighted, and these highlighted frames are your app's frames. In order for these crashes to be readable, symbolication is required.

What is symbolication?

In a crash report, stack traces are sent with only memory addresses resembling the included frames. Compiling a release build for your app will strip the debug symbols to reduce the size of the generated binary. Symbolication is the process of transforming these stack traces' active memory addresses into something human-readable in terms of methods and functions.

How to symbolicate crashes

In order to symbolicate your crashes, you need to upload a reference for the debug symbols that got stripped. This reference is called a Debug Symbol file (dSYM). These debug symbols will attribute the unreadable memory addresses to their function and method names.

How to download dSYM files

Using iTunes Connect

To download the dSYM files for your app, do the following:

  • Log in to Apple iTunes Connect.
  • Select My Apps > (Your App) > Activity.
  • From the list of builds for your application, select the build number you need for the dSYM.
  • Select Download dSYM.

How to upload dSYM files to Instabug

Each app build you compile has a UUID, which your dSYM file will be attributed to. To find your project's dSYM, run the following command on your Instabug dashboard.

mdfind "com_apple_xcode_dsym_uuids == your-UUID-here"

After locating your project’s dSYM, you can then upload it manually or automatically.


In order to upload your dSYM file to Instabug’s dashboard, you need to find it. If your app build has Bitcode enabled, you will need to download dSYMs first from Xcode.

To upload dSYMs for Bitcode-enabled apps, follow these steps:

  • In Xcode, select Window, then Organizer.
  • Under the Archives tab, select an archive with the app version you need to symbolicate crashes from.
  • Click the Download dSYMs... button. Xcode will insert the .dSYM files into the selected archive.
  • View the archive by right-clicking on it in Xcode and selecting Show in Finder.
  • Right-click on the archive and select Show Package Contents, then open the dSYMs directory.
  • Compress all the .dSYM files you find in that directory and upload the archive to the Instabug dashboard.

If you’re not using Bitcode, you will need to find the dSYM files on the machine you used to build the app. Make sure that the dSYM gets generated during building in order to proceed. You can check the Debug Information Format build setting in Xcode where this is controlled.

With the UUID of your app, you can find the dSYM with the mdfind <UUID_of_app> command.

Now that you have the location of the dSYM, you will find the actual dSYM file inside a Contents/Resources/DWARF subdirectory.

Now that you have the dSYM file:

  • Compress the dSYM file you have located on your machine into a zip file.
  • Go to Upload dSYMs in the Settings menu of your Instabug dashboard.
  • Upload the compressed file.


Instead of uploading it manually, Instabug has a shell script that can automatically upload your project's dSYM during the build process. Go to your project's Build Phases tab and add a new Run Script Build Phase, to use it. Add the following to it.

Be sure to replace YOUR-APP-TOKEN-HERE with your actual app token. You can find it under SDK Integration in the Settings menu of your Instabug dashboard.

And if you're using Xcode 10, you will need to add the previous script to the Archive > Post-actions.

Symbolicated crashes

Now that your crash reports have been symbolicated you can view stack traces in a human-readable format. Stack traces will highlight the most important frames and methods involved in the resulting crash. With the full details provided in Instabug’s crash reports along with more granular crash occurrence filtering, you can easily diagnose what went wrong.

Learn more:

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