We know that Apple likes to control everything that is installed on its devices, therefore it is very reluctant to install previous versions of iOS on our iPhone, or previous versions of iPadOS on the iPad. Upgrading the iPhone is really simple, but doing the reverse process and installing an old version on the iPhone, something is known as a downgrade, is not so easy.
Installing an old version on iOS is an unofficial process that can give us unexpected errors, and end up forcing us to factory reset our device. So first of all, verify that you have a backup of your iPhone from Settings> Your profile> iCloud> Copy to iCloud. In the event of an error, you can always return your iPhone to its current state without losing anything.
How to go back to a previous version of iOS?
To return to an old version of iOS we must follow a series of steps that we cannot skip. There is no official way to go back to previous versions of iOS, so we must do it unofficially.
Download older versions of iOS
The update files must have an IPSW iOS format. It is a type of format that our computer cannot read, but it works as an iOS installer. Each version of iOS, iOS 12, iOS 13, iOS 14, and the intermediate versions, iOS 14.4, iOS 14.5, have their own IPSW. In addition, there is an IPSW file for every iPhone model on the market. That is, the iPhone 11 would be different from the iPhone 12.
To be able to download the iOS version, we must download the IPSW file for that version and for our exact device. Therefore, to download an older version of iOS you must follow these steps:
- Enter the website ipsw.me.
- Select your iPhone or iPad model.
- Click on the iOS version you want to download.
- Tap the Download button.
Enter DFU mode
The next step, once you have the iOS IPSW file on your iPhone, is to put the iPhone in DFU mode and connect it to your PC or Mac. This is a special mode designed to restore your iPhone, in this case to a previous version of iOS. In this process, we may lose a lot of our data, since modern backups are not compatible with previous iOS versions.
Depending on the model of iPhone you have, this is how you can enter DFU mode:
- iPhone 6s and earlier: Press and hold the center button and the top or side button at the same time. Hold them down until you see the iTunes connection screen on the iPhone or iPad.
- iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold the side and volume down buttons at the same time. Hold them down until you see the iTunes connection screen on the iPhone.
- iPhone 8, iPhone X, and later: Quickly press and release the volume up button. Press and quickly release the volume down button. Then, press and hold the side button until you see the iTunes connection screen on your device.
Install an old version of iOS
The last step is to install the old version, the IPSW file that we have downloaded, on our iPhone in DFU mode. If you have a Mac with macOS Catalina or a later version you must use Finder, if it is a Mac with macOS Mojave or earlier or a Windows PC you will have to open iTunes, then follow these steps:
- Connect iPhone to computer via cable.
- Open Finder or iTunes and go to the iPhone tab.
- Click restore while holding down the Alt / Option key.
- Select the iOS IPSW file you downloaded.
- Errors when installing old versions of iOS
- It is very likely that the installation of an error, this is because to verify and activate that version of iOS, Apple has to let you do it, which is commonly known as “signing” that version of iOS.
When Apple releases a new iOS update, the previous version is still signed for a few days or weeks, but after a while, Apple stops doing it, making it impossible to install this version.
Therefore, if you want to downgrade as soon as you install a new update, you probably can, but right now you cannot go back to versions of iOS 13 or iOS 12. In fact, on the web is.me you will see in green the versions that Apple still signs and you can install and in red those that it is impossible to restore on the iPhone.
Risks when reverting to an old iOS version
Going back to an older version of iOS means losing information along the way. The backup of an iOS version is incompatible with an older version. That is, an iOS 15 backup cannot be restored on an iPhone with iOS 14. So please try to save everything that is important.
Other data such as Photos, calendars, or notes, which are independent of the backup, can restore them without problems on your iPhone when you install the previous version.
Can you install an unsigned version of iOS?
Installing an unsigned .ipsw file is currently not possible. Previously there were a few ways to achieve this, with SHSH files. However, years ago Apple ended this unsigned iOS downgrade method. Therefore, it is no longer possible to install an old iOS version that Apple does not sign, there is no option.
As you can see, it is possible to go back to older versions of iOS, but only for a time