While playing around with the latest Apple software during beta testing is great fun, it isn’t without its risks. So, if the iOS 13 beta is bringing you down, you’ll probably be happy to know that you can downgrade to iOS 12.
But the process isn’t quite as simple as installing iOS 12 again and getting all of your data back. Before you proceed, there are a few key things to keep in mind.
- Can’t restore from iOS 12.3.2 backup? Here’s what the problem is
- 11 things you can do in iOS 13 that you couldn’t do in iOS 12
- How to rename documents using Files App on iOS 13 and iPadOS
A note about backups
If you glance down at the steps below, you’ll notice that they involve restoring your iPhone to factory defaults without backing it up.
This is because you will not be able to restore an iOS 13 backup if you’re running the latest stable version of iOS 12. Backups, whether in iTunes or iCloud, are not forward-compatible.
That means if you’ve made any significant changes, installed any new apps, or taken any new photos in iOS 13, you’ll lose out on that data. There isn’t really a way around this, except to wait for the public release of iOS 13 in the fall.
It’s worth noting that this is the reason why we always recommend creating a full archived backup of your device using iTunes before installing any beta software.
To recap, if you don’t have a recent archived iOS 12 backup in iTunes or in iCloud, then downgrading to iOS 12 will result in losing your recent data and any of your non-native apps.
How to downgrade from iOS 13 to iOS 12
Note: For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that you’re running macOS Mojave or a version of macOS with iTunes. If you’re on a macOS Catalina beta, use Finder instead.
If you follow beta best practices and you have an archived backup in iTunes, then the process to downgrade to the latest iOS 12 release is pretty simple.
- Turn off ‘Find My’ on your iOS device. Go to Settings —> Apple ID —> iCloud and hit the toggle next to Find My iPhone.
- Launch iTunes on your Mac or PC.
- Connect your iOS device to your computer. Authenticate with “Trust” if necessary.
- In the iOS device menu, click on Restore iPhone.
- If prompted to back up your iPhone, choose Don’t Back Up.
- In the new confirmation box, choose Restore and Update (or Restore). If you have an archived backup from before you updated to that iOS 13 beta, choose that.
- Authenticate with your iOS device passcode if it asks for one.
From here, you’ll need to leave your iOS device connected to your Mac or PC for the duration of the restore and update process. Once it’s finished, you’ll be left with a device running the latest version of iOS 12.
It’s worth noting that you can also restore from a previous iCloud backup — as long as that backup was made when you had iOS 12 installed.
All you need to do is restore and update your iPhone to the latest stable release of iOS 12. Then, set up your iPhone as if it was a new device. When you get to the restore pane, choose to restore from an iOS 12 iCloud backup.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.