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Extract object (*.o) files from an iPhone static library

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment


I have a set of iPhone static libraries (a *.a file) in which I only call a few of the classes from.
I have used AR in the past (with linux libraries) to extract the object files from the static library, remove the unwanted object files and rearchive.

However, when I try this with an iPhone compliled static library, I get the following error:

ar: CustomiPhoneLib.a is a fat file (use libtool(1) or lipo(1) and ar(1) on it)
ar: CustomiPhoneLib.a: Inappropriate file type or format

Does anyone know how to extract the object files from an iphone compiled static library? Doing thie could potentially reduce the final file size.


That’s because your CustomiPhoneLib.a is a fat library, i.e., a library that contains more than one target architecture, namely armv6 and armv7 on iOS. You can use lipo to extract a specific architecture into another .a file, use ar and ranlib to manipulate it at will, and then use lipo again to recombine the manipulated .a files into a single .a fat file. For instance,

lipo CustomiPhoneLib.a -thin armv6 -output CustomiPhoneLibarmv6.a
lipo CustomiPhoneLib.a -thin armv7 -output CustomiPhoneLibarmv7.a
### use ar and ranlib at will on both files
mv CustomiPhoneLib.a CustomiPhoneLib.a.original
lipo CustomiPhoneLibarmv6.a CustomiPhoneLibarmv7.a -create -output CustomiPhoneLib.a

However, you don’t have to do this for the reason you’ve mentioned. The linker will only pull object (.o) files from a library (.a) if it needs to resolve some symbol reference. Therefore, if a library contains an object file whose symbols are never referenced during the linking process (i.e., symbols that are not effectively used), that object file won’t make it into the executable.


ar -t mylib.a
This will list all of the files in the archive.

ar -xv mylib.a myobj.o
This will extract the object give myobj.o from the library mylib.a.