How to downgrade iOS

iOS updates can be super exciting. Not only do they come with great features that improve the functionality of your iPhone, but most incremental updates also contain loads of fixes that address known bugs and problems.

However, that is not the case with beta versions of iOS. They often break key features, prevent apps from running properly, or cause battery-related issues. In rare cases, you can also experience it with stable iOS releases.

If you’ve exhausted other troubleshooting options (have you tried resetting your iPhone?), downgrading iOS is a move that can help.

How iOS downgrade works

Depending on whether you’re on the beta or stable channel of iOS, here’s how downgrading your iPhone’s system software works:

  • You can downgrade from an iOS beta release to the latest and most stable version of your system software by restoring your iPhone in recovery mode. It’s not complicated and you can do it whenever you want.
  • You can downgrade from a stable iOS release to another stable version by restoring your iPhone using an IPSW (iPod Software) file. Apple stops ‘signing’ (or validating) older versions of iOS within days or weeks of a new release. In most cases that makes it impossible to roll back to anything other than the previous iteration of the system software. If you miss the period, you cannot downgrade.

Downgrading iPhone (from beta or stable release) will also delete all your data. That includes apps, settings, documents, photos, messages, contacts, etc.

Delete keys on keyboard

If you have an iCloud or Finder/iTunes backup from the same version of iOS (or earlier) that you’re about to downgrade to, you can get your data back by restoring afterwards. You can also retrieve some types of data synced to iCloud — like photos and messages — just by signing in with your Apple ID.

However, Downgraded iPhones won’t accept backups created on newer iOS versions. For example, you cannot use iCloud or Finder/iTunes backups from iOS 14.3 to restore your data on iOS 14.2. You also cannot use backups from the beta release of iOS 14.4 on the stable release of iOS 14.3.

If you don’t have any old backups, the only way to get your data back is to create a new Finder/iTunes backup and use an alternative that includes editing the backup’s PLIST file. You can read more about it below. That said, we don’t take any responsibility if you lose your data.

How to downgrade iOS Beta to stable iOS

Downgrading an iPhone from a beta release to a stable iOS version (such as from iOS 14.0 beta to iOS 13.7 or iOS 14.4 beta to iOS 14.3) is fairly straightforward. However, you cannot select the version you want to downgrade to.

1. Connect your iPhone to your PC or Mac via USB.

2. Open Finder or iTunes and select your iPhone.

3. Force restart your iPhone and enter recovery mode.

4. Select Restore in Finder or iTunes.

Restore button on update screen

5. Select Restore and Update to confirm that you want to continue.

Restore and update confirmation screen

6. Agree to the license terms.

7. Wait for Finder/iTunes to finish downloading the stable version of iOS to your Mac or PC. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, it may take a few minutes to an hour to complete.

Download status bar

Importance: If your iPhone exits recovery mode during the download process (it should work automatically after 15 minutes), just wait for the download to complete and put it back into recovery mode. Then repeat the steps 46.

Once Finder/iTunes finishes downloading the update file, your Mac or PC will automatically start restoring your iPhone. After you get the message “Your iPad has been restored to factory settings…”, select ALRIGHT. However, do not disconnect until you see the “Hello” screen on your iPhone.

How to downgrade stable iOS to previous stable version

Downgrading an iPhone from the stable version to the previous stable version can be a bit complicated. To get started, you must download a signed version of the system software IPSW file using your Mac or PC. Then you have to use Finder/iTunes to restore your iPhone from the downloaded file.

1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. Then go to Apple ID > Find mine > Find My Iphone and disable Find My Iphone.

Find My iPhone Converted

2. Go to IPSW.me on your Mac or PC.

3. Choose your iPhone model. Then select the signed iOS version you want to downgrade to. If you don’t see the signed release (not the one you’re using), you can’t downgrade.

4. Download the IPSW system software file.

Download button

5. Connect your iPhone to your computer or Mac via USB.

6. Open Finder or iTunes and select your iPhone.

7. Hold down Right to buy (Mac) or Change (PC) and select Restore iphone button.

Restore iPhone Button

8. Select the downloaded IPSW file. Then choose Open.

IPSW file in Downloads folder

9. Select Restore.

Restore confirmation screen

Your Mac or PC will start downgrading your iPhone right away. Option ALRIGHT when you get the pop-up message “Your iPad has been restored to factory settings…”. However, do not disconnect your iPhone until you see the “Hello” screen.

How to Restore Your Data from iCloud or Finder / iTunes Backup

After downgrading iOS, you can restore your data using a compatible iCloud or Finder/iTunes backup. While setting up your iPhone, select Restore from iCloud Backup or Restore from Mac or PC on the Apps and data screen and follow all the onscreen instructions to get your data back.

Restore options on the Apps and data screen

Since you cannot restore your data using iCloud or a Finder/iTunes backup created on a newer iOS version, the following solution should help you. However, it is limited to Finder/iTunes backups only.

1. Download the PLIST editor for your Mac or PC. Some suggestions below:

Mac: BBEdit

COMPUTER: plist Editor Pro

2. Go to the folder containing the Finder/iTunes backup on your computer.

Mac: Open Finder, press Request+Change+WOODcopy the link below and select To go:

~ Library / Application Support / MobileSync / Backup

Go to folder window

COMPUTER: Press Windows+CHEAP to open Run, copy below path and select ALRIGHT:

%USERPROFILE% / Apple Computer / MobileSync / Backup

If the directory does not exist, use the following path instead:

%APPDATA% / Apple Computer / MobileSync / Backup

3. Select the iPhone backup folder.

iPhone backup folder

4. Locate and open Info.plist in a PLIST editor.

Open with BBEdit menu

5. Locate the line labeled Product version. Press cmd+F or Control+F and use the Find function of the PLIST editor to get in line faster.

6. In the Product Version line, replace the iOS version number with the downgraded iOS version number. For example, if you just downgraded to iOS 14.2, add that as the version number.

Version number in PLIST editor

7. Press cmd+S or Control+S to save changes. Then exit the PLIST editor.

Now you can restore from backup. Return to iTunes or Finder. Then, select your iPhone, choose a backup using the menu next to it Restore from this backupand choose Continue.

How does it happen?

Downgrading iOS is not difficult. You just don’t have a choice about which version you want to downgrade to. However, there is no reason to do it in the first place unless you continue to experience serious problems on your iPhone. Only perform the downgrade as a last resort.

If you have any questions, comment and we will do our best to help you.

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