Maximizing the Preview Assistant Editor in Xcode 6

While working through a coding tutorial in the excellent iOS 8 by Tutorials book by the Ray Wenderlich crew, I learned about the new Preview Assistant Editor in Xcode 6. This is a feature that you can enable in an assistant editor while editing a view file (e.g. a storyboard or XIB). It shows what that view looks like on the ever-growing plethora of screen sizes, vastly reducing the time spent testing out UI changes on device simulators. It can also be used to see how a view will look when using strings from different languages, such as infamously long German words.


Having this very useful feature relegated to an assistant editor is a shame. An assistant editor must share a window with its primary editor. I would prefer to open the preview in a new window, which would live on my second monitor, enabling me to see many different previews at the same time without needing to scroll around the assistant editor. I am not aware of a way to do this, but I found the next best thing. Here’s what my setup looks like:

The lefthand screen has the main Xcode window, in which I edit a view. The righthand screen has a maximized window with a nearly fullscreen preview of the view I’m editing on the left. As you can see in the photo, I can fit a preview of all four iPhone sizes into the screen at the same time. When I edit the view on the left, the changes are immediately reflected in the previews on the right. It’s pretty sweet!

Here’s how you can set this up…

  1. In the Project Navigator pane, single-click a storyboard/XIB file to open it in the main Xcode window.
  2. Now double-click that same file to open it in a new window.
  3. Move the new window to another monitor and maximize it.
  4. Click on the new window to make sure it has input focus, then type Option+Command+Enter to open an assistant editor in that window.
  5. In the assistant editor’s jump bar click on ‘Automatic‘ to open the drop-down menu (see the screenshot below if you don’t know what this means).
  6. Click on the ‘Preview‘ menu item to open the preview editor.
  7. Click and hold next to the assistant editor’s jump bar, then drag up or left (depending on which editor layout you prefer; vertical or horizontal), to maximize the preview’s screen real estate.

In case you didn’t understand the step involving the assistant editor’s jump bar, here’s a screenshot for reference:

Have fun!

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3 Responses to Maximizing the Preview Assistant Editor in Xcode 6

  1. Pingback: Dew Drop – September 29, 2014 (#1865) | Morning Dew

  2. Glenn Thomas says:

    In step 4 you said to make sure the new window has input focus. Can you explain what that is and how to to it ?

    • Josh Smith says:

      That means you need to click on the window to ensure the keystrokes are sent to that window. Sorry, that’s the old Windows developer in me peeking out! 🙂

      I reworded that step to make it more understandable. Thanks for your feedback.

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