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Secret Apple



Traditionally, applications compiled in C have have access to 3 parameters passed to the main function:

  • int argc - Numebr of arguments
  • char *argv[] - An array of strings containing the program arguments, ending in a NULL element.
  • char *envp[] - An array of strings containing the environment variables, ending in a NULL element.

But on macOS, programs actually have access to another parameter - the apple array of strings, which is passed on the stack as the 4th argument, after the envp.

#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char *argv[], char *envp[], char *apple[]) {
  int i;

    printf("apple[%d] = %s\n", i, apple[i++]);

  return 0;

Although not documented anywhere, it appears that apple[0] contains the full path of the executable being run:

$ gcc -o apple apple.c

$ ./apple
apple[0] = executable_path=./apple
apple[1] =
apple[2] =
apple[3] =
apple[4] = main_stack=