HoloLens 2.0 Dev Mode on Mac

The HoloLens 2 is still available to purchase, and still costs as much as Apple Vision Pro. Recently, I needed to side-load a project to evaluate and encountered enough friction in the process that I thought it was worth capturing. I am also hoping I discover a smoother way to accomplish this in the future.

In order to enable side-loading I had to put a special account on the device that was provided by the developer. The instructions included just enough information to accomplish what I needed, and required a little trial and error.

Side-loading builds requires an admin account login to the Hololens. Then some settings changes enable Hololens to serve a web UI accessible to other devices on the same network. This is “Dev Mode” aka Windows Device Portal. It exposes a lot of useful information about Hololens.

Developer Mode Settings

In settings, tap Update & Security

…For Developers…

Tick all the boxes and take down the IP address…

The IP address of the HoloLens must be known in order to access it from another device.

In order to first access the portal, device pairing is required. The Hololens will generate a pin that is displayed in the headset.

Load the IP address in the browser of the computer used to access the portal. A pin input prompt will be displayed.

In a PC or Mac, enter the IP address in a browser – you should get the home page of the HoloLens device portal (the equivalent to localhost). You may need to proceed through some warning pages relating to certificates and security – this can be set up later. You will need to press a button that requests a pin. The pin will appear in the HoloLens visor. Enter the pin and user account info to create an account that can access the developer portal from the device going forward.

Additionally, you can download a root certificate to enable a smoother connection experience. Instructions are here.

The sideload content must be downloaded to Hololens via the Developer Portal File Explorer view from the connected PC. Typically, the Downloads folder:

Then the content can be installed by Double-tapping the content in the Downloads folder on the Hololens File Explorer:

Access sideloaded content in the Hololens Start Menu. Select All Apps and find the App listed there. Long press to get an option to pin the app onto the start menu.

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