Pre-release beta versions of iOS 13 have been available to install for several months. But what if you regret installing the iOS 13 beta - if apps or our entire device stop working, for example - and want to go back to iOS 12? Or what if you've upgraded to the iOS 13.1 beta and want to go back to the iOS 13 GM, or the final version, which will be released to the public on the 19th September?

In this article, we look at various methods of removing an iOS beta and restoring to an earlier version of iOS or the GM of iOS 13. We show how to downgrade from (non-beta) iOS in a separate article.

Preparations before downgrading iOS beta

If you're reading this article it may be too late, but just in case, a few words first about the best way to prepare for installing iOS 13 - steps that will make it easier to go back afterwards.

Before updating, you should back up all your data and settings. For the beta, Apple advises that you should back up to iTunes specifically (rather than to iCloud) and then archive the backup.

Apple warns that you won't be able to recover your data in an earlier version of iOS if you back up after the iOS beta is installed. "If you back up a device that has iOS beta to iCloud or iTunes, the backup won’t work with earlier versions of iOS."

Here's how to archive an iTunes backup and prepare for iOS 13:

  1. Plug in your iPad or iPhone and start up iTunes on your Mac.
  2. Click Summary, then Back Up Now.
  3. Wait for the backup to finish.
  4. Now select iTunes > Preferences > Devices and look for your device's backup.
  5. Hold the Ctrl key and click on the backup. Finally, select the option Archive.

This creates a safe backup that we can return to after trying out iOS 13. Next, we'll look at how to go back to a previous version of iOS (and restore the backup we just created) from iOS 13.

What are the risks of downgrading iOS beta?

As with anything to do with beta software, there are risks to downgrading from iOS 13 back to iOS 12 - which is why we strongly recommend that you back up all of your data before installing the beta.

For the most part, downgrading should be harmless - and if you have your backup ready then you're protected against any data loss. But, it's worth noting that it has the potential to brick your iPhone or iPad.

There are a few ways to restore an iPhone that won't turn on, but when it happened to us a few years ago, it was impossible and we actually had to have the iPhone replaced. We're not suggesting this will happen to anyone who attempts to downgrade from iOS 13, but we aware that this is the sort of risk you're taking.

Downgrade from the iOS 13 beta to iOS 12

If you still want to proceed, downgrading from the iOS 13 beta will be easier than downgrading from the full public version; iOS 12.4.1 is currently the newest officially supported operating system (iOS 13 launches officially on 19 September) and will, therefore, be the software your iPhone or iPad will be restored to if you select the iTunes option to Restore and Update. But we'll get into that in a moment.

How to remove iOS 12 beta and go back to iOS 11: Beta profile

The only issue is that you'll have to restore from a pre-iOS 13 backup (here's how to back up an iPad or iPhone), so any data or preferences you've saved since then will be lost - and if you haven't got an archived backup from your iOS 12 days (as Apple suggests doing before upgrading), you won't be able to restore your data at all.

In that case all your data will be lost and you'll have to go back to a factory-default 'new iPhone' or 'new iPad' setup. Something to consider.

Anyway, removing the iOS 13 beta is simple:

  1. Enter Recovery mode by holding the Power and Home buttons until your iPhone or iPad turns off, then continue holding the Home button. This can take a while, so don't give up after a few seconds.
  2. When it says 'Connect to iTunes', do exactly that - plug it into your Mac or PC and open up iTunes.
  3. iTunes will tell you that it's detected an iPhone or iPad in Recovery Mode, and that this needs to be restored - click OK to agree to this, then Restore iPhone or Restore iPad (as appropriate).
  4. Finally, choose the option to Restore and Update. iTunes will download the latest version of iOS 12 and install it on your Apple device.

Once iTunes has reinstalled a fresh version of iOS 12, you have a choice of either restoring from an old backup (remember, your iOS 13 backup won't work) or setting it up as a brand-new iPhone. Simply select your preferred option, follow the onscreen prompts and voila! You're back on good ol' iOS 12.

How to stop getting from iOS 13 beta updates

Once iOS 13 launches that doesn't mean that the beta updates will stop. Apple continues to issue updates to the beta to testers even after the final version is with the general public. if you no longer wish to run beta versions - after all, if you were only running the beta to get a feel for the new OS before your friends, you won't want to still be putting up with bugs now that iOS 13 is out. Luckily you can stop receiving beta updates simply by unenrolling your device from the beta program. Here's how:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Profiles on your iPhone
  2. Tap Remove Profile.
  3. Enter your device passcode if required.
  4. Tap Remove
  5. Once the profile is deleted you will no longer receive beta updates.

Downgrade from iOS 13.1 to iOS 13 GM

Apple released the iOS 13 GM (Golden Master) to registered developers following its September 2019 event. For those unaware, the GM is usually the version of iOS that Apple will push to the public upon release, giving developers a few more days to make sure their apps run as intended using Apple's latest software. 

Shortly after, Apple released iOS 13.1 beta. While it's great that Apple is already working on additional features for iOS 13 after releasing the GM, some beta testers were frustrated that they had moved on from the final version.

If you want to revert to the iOS 13 GM on your iPhone, that's beta 8, first download it via Apple's Developer Portal and make sure you've got either Xcode 11 or the macOS Catalina beta running on your Mac. Once you've done that, follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac via Lightning cable.
  3. Select the iPhone icon in the top-left to access your iPhone.
  4. Back up your iPhone.
  5. Hold the Command key and click the Restore icon.
  6. Browse for the IPSW file you downloaded from Apple's Dev Portal and click Open.
  7. Wait for iTunes to install the iOS 13 GM.
  8. Follow on-screen prompts to install your most recent backup. 

And there you have it! You should now be running the iOS 13 GM again. 

But what if you've only got access to a PC? Interestingly, the process is easier on Windows 10 and doesn't require a full restore, but it does require free third-party software. To update to the iOS 13 GM from iOS 13 beta 8 on Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac via Lightning cable.
  3. Select the iPhone icon in the top-left to access your iPhone.
  4. Back up your iPhone - you probably won't need to use it, but better safe than sorry.
  5. Close iTunes.
  6. Download, install and open 3uTools.
  7. Select the Flash & JB tab.
  8. Select iOS13 GM and either click import the IPSW you downloaded from Apple's Dev Portal or click download to download it via 3uTools. 
  9. Make sure you select 'Retain User's Data' at the bottom of the window.
  10. Click Flash, and then click Flash again in the pop-up window.
  11. The app will then flash the iOS 13 GM onto your iPhone. This process can take a while, and once complete, your iPhone will have to rebuild its database before you can use it - a process that took around 20 minutes in our experience.

Once the database has been successfully rebuilt, you should now have access to the iOS 13 GM.