Restore A Previous iOS version on iPad or iPhone

Restore a previous iOS version on iPad or iPhone

Apple frequently releases new versions and updates to iOS for iPhone and iPad. Most releases are installed on the device and this usually does not present a problem. There are times when the update may present a problem and conflict with applications or resources frequently used on the device. Most apps and websites are usually updated to meet the newest standards from the latest iOS but this is not always the case.

If we wait long enough the updates to apps or websites will eventually fix most issues. We can’t always wait for these updates and would rather go back to the previous version of the iOS when everything was working fine. In this lesson, we will learn how to return an iOS device to a previous version.

Before restoring to a previous iOS version it is important that there is a current backup of your device’s data. Most devices automatically backup your information to iCloud. This includes photos. Most applications also include backups to the cloud on either iCloud or separate services. Make sure all your important information is backed up because returning to a previous version will wipe your device.

In this example, we will take an iPad that was updated to iOS 11 and return it to iOS version 10.3.3. To return a device to a previous version we need to download the previous iOS. There are various websites where we can download older versions of the iOS. They aren’t all trust-worthy. I use because it has previous versions of iOS for iPhone and iPad. It also has previous OS versions for Apple TV and Apple Watch. In addition to these operating systems, the site contains previous iTunes versions for Windows and Mac.

There have been several device generations since the first iPhone and iPad. Each generation has a different processor and firmware version. This difference means we need to download the correct iOS version for your specific device. On the IPSW site, we can search for your device and use that information to help us download the correct iOS version.

On the site, we see icons that represent each device. In this example, we will select the iPad icon.

select ipad icon


The site is very helpful. It provides a visual of all the iPad generations. Click the icon for the iPad generation you have.

several iPad icons


If you don’t know which iPad generation you have there is a search option to help find the iPad generation. Click the Identify my iOS Device option.

identify my iOS device option


Click the button for your device.

iOS device option buttons


There is information on the page that describes where and how to find the model number of your device.

iPad device model number information


The model number is engraved on the back cover in very tiny letters. You might need a magnifying glass to see the number. You can also use the camera on your iPhone. Just open the Camera app and pinch to zoom in.

camera screen shot of iPad model number


Enter the model number in the search box.

enter iPad model number field search


The device model will appear below the search box.

iPad Air WiFi iOS release buttons


There is a Link to download the latest version of the iOS. We want the previous version of the iOS for this device. Click on the button to browse all iOS releases.

browse all iOS releases button


A page with a list of iOS releases will open. We will get this page too if we already know which device generation we have.

signed iOS releases for iPad


The iOS release list page has iOS releases that are Signed and releases that are not Signed. A Signed release means that it has been verified to work with the device. This is a signature from Apple. I recommend you download a signed release if possible. Most of the latest releases are Signed by Apple.

We could use an Unsigned release but the device might not properly work. The good news is that if you use an unsigned release and the device does not work, you can always go back to the most current release.

signed and unsigned iOS releases for iPad


Click one of the iOS releases.

download iOS 10.3 release


A page with information about the release will open. Below the release information is a button to download the iOS. Click the download button.

iOS release information


Open iTunes and connect your device. Click the device icon in iTunes and click the Summary option under Settings.

summary option for iPad in iTunes


There are options to update or restore the device. We want to restore the device. Clicking this button will only restore the device and update it to the latest iOS.

Before clicking the button, press and hold the Option key on the keyboard. Click the Restore button while holding the Option key.

restore iPad option in iTunes


A Finder window will open so we can select an iOS version for restoration. Find the ipsw file downloaded from the site and open it.

select ipsw restore of iPad


A message box will open informing us that the device will be erased and the selected iOS will be installed onto the device. The message is also informing us that the iOS will be verified with Apple. This is part of the Signature we talked about earlier before we downloaded the iOS release. Click the Restore button.

restore button in iTunes for iOS


The iTunes application will display information during the restoration process.

restoration message in iTunes


At the end of the restoration, iTunes will prompt us to set up the device as a new device or restore it from a backup. Devices usually maintain backups on iCloud and this backup can be used to restore all your information. Restoring will reinstall all your applications and settings onto the device. This is the fastest way to get you back to where you were before the iOS update. You can restore a backup that was done with the latest release of an iOS. This is because your backup has little to do with the devices iOS.

Select the restore option and click the Continue button.

restore from backup option in iTunes


There are no guarantees but your application(s) should be working just as they did before.

Posted in iOS, iPad, iPhone.