iOS 12 was announced at WWDC on 4 June 2018, and both the developer beta and public beta are available to install now. But what if you regret installing iOS 12 beta and want to go back to iOS 11?

Before jumping in and installing the new version, some people will be keen to know whether it will be possible to revert back to a previous version of iOS should the worse happen and apps you rely on not work, or you find your iPhone starts to slow down or become unresponsive.

While some might suggest biding your time before updating to iOS 12 to see if any errors are reported, if you're keen to try iOS 12 then you'll want to know two things: what steps to take to safeguard your data and settings before updating, and how to go back to the previous version if you need to. We cover these questions in this article.

In this article we look at various methods of downgrading from one version of iOS to an earlier one, focusing for obvious reasons on downgrading from the iOS 12 beta to iOS 11. (For a comparison of the two versions, see iOS 12 vs iOS 11.)

Preparations before downgrading

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 12 - 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.

"If you back up to iCloud or if you don't archive your backup, you won't be able to restore from it if you go back to current version of iOS," Apple points out. It even advises you to make sure you're running the latest version of iTunes.

Here's how to archive an iTunes backup and prepare for iOS 12:

  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 12. Next, we'll look at how to go back to a previous version of iOS (and restore the backup we just created) from iOS 12.

What are the risks of downgrading iOS?

As with anything to do with beta software, there are risks to downgrading from iOS 12 back to iOS 11 - 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, and when it happened to us, we ultimately had to have the iPhone replaced. We're not suggesting this will happen to anyone who attempts to downgrade from iOS 12, but we aware that this is the sort of risk you're taking.

Downgrade from the iOS 12 beta

If you still want to proceed, downgrading from the iOS 12 beta will be easier than downgrading from the full public version; iOS 11.4 is still the newest and current officially supported operating system (iOS 12 hasn't launched officially yet) 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

The only issue is that you'll have to restore from a pre-iOS 12 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 11 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 12 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, and 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 11 and install it on your Apple device.

Once iTunes has reinstalled a fresh version of iOS 11, you have a choice of either restoring from an old backup (remember, your iOS 12 backup won't work) or setting it up as a brand new iPhone. Simply select your preferred option, follow the on-screen prompts and voila! You're back on good ol' iOS 11.