Pre-release beta versions of iOS 12 have been available to install for several months. But what if you regret installing the iOS 12 beta - if apps or the entire device stop working, for example - and want to go back to iOS 11?
In this article we look at various methods of removing an iOS beta and restoring to an earlier version.
Note that the final version of iOS 12 releases later today (17 Sept 2018). We show how to downgrade from (non-beta) iOS 12 in a separate article.
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:
- Plug in your iPad or iPhone and start up iTunes on your Mac.
- Click Summary, then Back Up Now.
- Wait for the backup to finish.
- Now select iTunes > Preferences > Devices and look for your device's backup.
- 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 11.4.1 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.
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:
- 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.
- When it says 'Connect to iTunes', do exactly that - plug it into your Mac or PC and open up iTunes.
- 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).
- 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 onscreen prompts and voila! You're back on good ol' iOS 11.