iOS 12, the major iPhone and iPad software update that launched in September 2018, brought a speed boost and a range of new features; it will be followed by a series of smaller point updates that bring security patches and other useful tweaks. But what happens if you update your device and aren't happy with the new software?

It is possible to remove the latest version of iOS 12 from your iPhone or iPad and go back to something earlier, but you have to move fast - it all depends on whether Apple is still 'signing' the earlier version. iOS 11, for example, is no longer available, but each time a new version of iOS 12 comes out it will be possible to downgrade to the one before.

In this article, we show you how to downgrade iOS 12 on your iPhone or iPad, and also discuss the possible dangers of doing so.

iOS downgrade warning

A couple of things worth noting before you try to downgrade.

First up, downgrading iOS will require you to completely wipe your phone - all your contacts, photos, apps and everything else will be deleted. It's not like the upgrade process where all your data remains intact.

While it will be possible to restore from a backup once you're running the old version of iOS again, you won't be able to restore from a backup running the newer one. If your iPhone or iPad has automatically backed up via iCloud since you've upgraded, you won't be able to access any of your data after downgrading. You'll have to start again from scratch, or restore from an older backup (if available).

Finally, you need to be sure that Apple is still signing the old version of iOS. As a rule of thumb, Apple tends to stop signing the older version around two days after the release of the new version. That means that the window is small, and it's worth checking that it's still available before following the below tutorial.

While there's no official resource, you can head to this site to check the status for your iOS device; this site also lists signed versions of iOS for each device. If Apple has stopped signing the software and you still try, chances are your phone will be wiped and you'll be prompted to re-install the latest version of iOS 12.

At time of writing Apple is only signing iOS 12.0.1 for new and newish devices, which means that at this exact point in time you can't downgrade at all. But when iOS 12.1 comes out (soon) you will for a few days be able to downgrade from that to iOS 12.0.1.

How to downgrade iOS 12

Follow these instructions to downgrade to an older version of iOS:

  1. Open iTunes on your PC or Mac. If you haven't got it already, download it from the Apple site.
  2. Download the old iOS software update (assuming it's still being signed - see warnings above). There are many sites that offer IPSW downloads; just make sure you're downloading the software for your specific device or the restore will fail in iTunes.
  3. Connect your iPhone or iPad running the newer version of iOS to your PC or Mac, and select it in the dropdown in the top-left of iTunes.
  4. Click Restore iPhone while holding down the Option key (Mac) or the Shift key (Windows) and locate the IPSW file you downloaded earlier.
  5. Once you select the software, it should be verified and extracted by iTunes and loaded onto your iOS device.

And that's it! Once the process is complete, you'll be welcomed by the older iOS welcome screen. Simply follow the setup instructions and select a backup to restore from (if available).