Code Quality Rank: L4
Programming language: Python
License: MIT License
Tags: Code Quality    
Latest version: v2.0.1

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Chisel is a collection of LLDB commands to assist in the debugging of iOS apps.

[InstallationCommandsCustom CommandsDevelopment Workflow ContributingLicense]

For a comprehensive overview of LLDB, and how Chisel complements it, read Ari Grant's Dancing in the Debugger — A Waltz with LLDB in issue 19 of objc.io.


brew update
brew install chisel

if .lldbinit file doesn't exist you can create it & open it by tapping on the terminal

 touch .lldbinit 
 open .lldbinit 

Then add the following line to your ~/.lldbinit file.

# ~/.lldbinit
command script import /usr/local/opt/chisel/libexec/fbchisellldb.py
  • Note that if you are installing on an M1 Mac, the path above should be /opt/homebrew/opt/chisel/libexec/fbchisellldb.py instead.

Alternatively, download chisel and add the following line to your ~/.lldbinit file.

# ~/.lldbinit
command script import /path/to/fbchisellldb.py

The commands will be available the next time Xcode starts.


There are many commands; here's a few: (Compatibility with iOS/Mac indicated at right)

Command Description iOS OS X
pviews Print the recursive view description for the key window. Yes Yes
pvc Print the recursive view controller description for the key window. Yes No
visualize Open a UIImage, CGImageRef, UIView, CALayer, NSData (of an image), UIColor, CIColor, or CGColorRef in Preview.app on your Mac. Yes No
fv Find a view in the hierarchy whose class name matches the provided regex. Yes No
fvc Find a view controller in the hierarchy whose class name matches the provided regex. Yes No
show/hide Show or hide the given view or layer. You don't even have to continue the process to see the changes! Yes Yes
mask/unmask Overlay a view or layer with a transparent rectangle to visualize where it is. Yes No
border/unborder Add a border to a view or layer to visualize where it is. Yes Yes
caflush Flush the render server (equivalent to a "repaint" if no animations are in-flight). Yes Yes
bmessage Set a symbolic breakpoint on the method of a class or the method of an instance without worrying which class in the hierarchy actually implements the method. Yes Yes
wivar Set a watchpoint on an instance variable of an object. Yes Yes
presponder Print the responder chain starting from the given object. Yes Yes
... ... and many more!

To see the list of all of the commands execute the help command in LLDB or go to the Wiki.

(lldb) help
The following is a list of built-in, permanent debugger commands:

The following is a list of your current user-defined commands:

The bottom list contains all the commands sourced from Chisel.

You can also inspect a specific command by passing its name as an argument to the help command (as with all other LLDB commands).

(lldb) help border
Draws a border around <viewOrLayer>. Color and width can be optionally provided.

  <viewOrLayer>; Type: UIView*; The view to border.

  --color/-c <color>; Type: string; A color name such as 'red', 'green', 'magenta', etc.
  --width/-w <width>; Type: CGFloat; Desired width of border.

Syntax: border [--color=color] [--width=width] <viewOrLayer>

All of the commands provided by Chisel come with verbose help. Be sure to read it when in doubt!

Custom Commands

You can add local, custom commands. Here's a contrived example.

# Example file with custom commands, located at /magical/commands/example.py

import lldb
import fbchisellldbbase as fb

def lldbcommands():
  return [ PrintKeyWindowLevel() ]

class PrintKeyWindowLevel(fb.FBCommand):
  def name(self):
    return 'pkeywinlevel'

  def description(self):
    return 'An incredibly contrived command that prints the window level of the key window.'

  def run(self, arguments, options):
    # It's a good habit to explicitly cast the type of all return
    # values and arguments. LLDB can't always find them on its own.
    lldb.debugger.HandleCommand('p (CGFloat)[(id)[(id)[UIApplication sharedApplication] keyWindow] windowLevel]')

Then all that's left is to source the commands in lldbinit. Chisel has a python function just for this, loadCommandsInDirectory in the fbobjclldb.py module.

# ~/.lldbinit
command script import /path/to/fbobjclldb.py
script fbobjclldb.loadCommandsInDirectory('/magical/commands/')

There's also builtin support to make it super easy to specify the arguments and options that a command takes. See the border and pinvocation commands for example use.

Development Workflow

Developing commands, whether for local use or contributing to Chisel directly, both follow the same workflow. Create a command as described in the Custom Commands section and then

  1. Start LLDB
  2. Reach a breakpoint (or simply pause execution via the pause button in Xcode's debug bar or process interrupt if attached directly)
  3. Execute command source ~/.lldbinit in LLDB to source the commands
  4. Run the command you are working on
  5. Modify the command
  6. Optionally run script reload(modulename)
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 until the command becomes a source of happiness


Please contribute any generic commands that you make. If it helps you then it will likely help many others! :D See CONTRIBUTING.md to learn how to contribute.


Chisel is MIT-licensed. See LICENSE.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the chisel README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.