How to Use IPSW files

Nov 23, 2010 - 76 Comments

IPSW

IPSW stands rather simply for iOS Software, and IPSW files are basically just individual firmware downloads for specific iOS devices. These files can be used to update iOS devices manually with the help of iTunes. If you’ve recently downloaded an iOS IPSW file, you might be curious how to use it to update your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Using IPSW is often considered advanced but it’s actually pretty easy, just follow along with these directions and you’ll be along your way.

Before using a firmware file to update, you will want to backup the iOS device to be safe.

How to Use IPSW Files

You can use IPSW files on Mac or Windows, both require iTunes to work properly. To use the latest version of IPSW firmware files to update or restore an iOS device, you’ll want to be sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed as well.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iOS device to your computer
  2. Select the device in iTunes
  3. On a Mac, hold down the “Option” key and then click on “Update”
  4. On a Windows PC, hold down “SHIFT” key and then click on “Update”
  5. Select the IPSW file you downloaded and click “Choose”
  6. Let the iOS device update as usual

how to use ipsw

Going the IPSW route can take longer to update than using the newer OTA (over the air) method, the reason being that OTA uses smaller delta updates than the larger IPSW files, which are the full sized downloads and are often literally 10x the download size.

You can also click on “Restore” and select an IPSW instead but you will lose the existing files and settings on your iOS device. If you go that route, do not forget to backup beforehand.

Why use IPSW?

Though the average user is better off going the easy routes of updating iOS with iTunes or OTA, IPSW can have very practical uses as well. A significant advantage to using firmware files can be found for users with limited access to broadband internet, where downloading a software update on a remote faster connection makes more sense. Typically you would then copy that IPSW file to a USB key or DVD to bring it home to manually update a device. Also, for users with many of the same iOS devices, having a single IPSW downloads let’s you conserve bandwidth by applying a single update to many devices.

Finally, there are some cases where IPSW is necessary to create custom configured firmware for future restores. This typically ties in with the “Restore” method of updating, which allows the use of custom IPSW files, and is generally something created with a third party application like PwnageTool or sn0wbreeze. This is almost exclusively relevant to those who jailbreak and unlock their hardware though, and for the average user the standard IPSW files available from Apple work just fine.

Where do you get IPSW files?

We have several comprehensive lists of iOS IPSW files hosted from Apple’s servers, you can see them all and access the downloads from the following places:

Note that each list includes all iOS versions after 3.0.

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Posted by: Manish Patel in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

76 Comments

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  1. Bill Eccles says:

    It’s worth noting that if you have multiple iOS devices to update, downloading all of the updates via the direct links and placing the resulting ipsw files into “~/Library/iTunes/(iPad/iPod/iPhone) Updates” will let you update the devices much faster as iTunes won’t download more than one update at a time.

  2. ddavid says:

    Perhaps next time you could insert, “how to backup a original ispw file” on a brand new ipod Touch 4Gen. It would be nice to backup the original file rather than Downloading some other file which may or may not be compatible. That question brought me here in my search, but it was not discussed.
    Thank You.

  3. [...] can find out how to use IPSW files if you are [...]

  4. Norman Thompson says:

    Thanks for writing this. I searched the entire internet, and a lot of folks did not explain this as simple as you did. Thanks. One other point to note is that Apple sends the files as zip files and you have to rename them .ipsw

    • Maria says:

      Norman,
      Thank you so much for noting that you have to rename file as an .ipsw I have been trying all day to restore to an older version and the firmware i download doesnt show up. I will give that a try

  5. JJM says:

    I’m new to this, but have successfully downgraded from 4.3 to 4.1 (my shsh blobs had been saved. My question though is this: Is there a difference between cutom .ipsw files and restore.ipsw files. I’ve been reading different sites and those two term are used a lot.

  6. [...] users should update their iOS hardware through iTunes for ease of use, but you can learn how to use IPSW files if this interests [...]

  7. tico says:

    thank you for this nice tip. :)

  8. Enrique says:

    Does the phone have to be in DFU mode or whatever?

  9. Linda says:

    Yes, you have great tips here that many hackers just fail to explain.
    Thanks so much!

  10. Yousuf says:

    i download the ipsw file and it come in zip file i tried to rename it to ext. of ipsw but doesn’t work ?

    any idea

    thanks

  11. nik says:

    So if I have a jailbroken/unlocked iphone, do I ‘update’ or ‘restore’ using ;an ipsw file? thanks.

  12. jezz says:

    to rename zip file go into control panel click on folder options click on view tab on top then unselect hide extensions for known file types click apply then ok then change zip by right clicking then rename change zip to ipsw

  13. [...] (Mac OS X) and click on the restore button within iTunes. You can read more about using IPSW files here if you are not sure. Tags: download 4.3.4 for ipod 2, download and install 4.3.4, download iOS [...]

  14. [...] can read about using IPSW files if you are confused, but most users will be best served by updating through [...]

  15. kevin says:

    is it only foripad2 which is on 4.3.2?

    mine is on 4.3.1 right now.

    not able to use this for 4.3.1? i have tried it with this file

    but it has come 3194? error.

    thanks.

  16. Connor says:

    Thank you man, you saved my day, this may seem a long while when it was posted but THANK YOU! <3

  17. kader says:

    hi guys…

    my Ipod touch is locked! i typed wrong key for three time and it is now Disabled. If i want to restore this device via downloaded IPSW what should i do ?

    i mean i have downloaded this from your direct link and renamed it successfully. now what to do ? whats the next step ? when i connect my device to itunes it directly connects to the internet.

    What if i want to restore my Locked device with this downloaded file ?

    thanks
    kader

  18. Jon says:

    Thank you so much! this helped me solve my very problem. You are like an angel sent from God.

  19. ruby says:

    hi there i have a question to address..
    rite now i am using ipod touch gen4 with ios 4.3.3
    recently i have downloaded the newest ios5.ipsw
    i have installed cydia and installous on my ipod
    how can i update my ios4.3.3 into ios5 and how to jailbreak it then ?
    tyvm for the asnwer

    • Thomas says:

      What to do: restore iPod to most recent backup,
      use ipsw to update to software 5.1.1,
      use redsn0w to jailbreak TETHERED,
      then follow this guide:
      Go to cydia and let it install – once done go back into cydia and download rocky raccoon 5.1.1 untether

      Hope this helped!

  20. adriana says:

    I have a Windows PC. I pushed down the ‘SHIFT’ key but nothing happens…

  21. pritish says:

    i dwnloaded 4.2 then i updated my os ……it showed an error and nw my iphone is in recovery mode…..wht shud i do…

  22. [...] 关于IPSW固件区别很大,特比是GSM和CDMA的差异很大,在美国,这是最容易判断的基础上手机提供商AT&T是GSM, Verizon是CDMA。如果你不知道做什么用的IPSW文件的,你可以阅读我们的怎么识别他们 。 [...]

  23. [...] you’d rather download and install the firmware yourself and you know how to use IPSW files, use the links [...]

  24. Zaid says:

    Hi,

    i updated my iPhone 3GS to iOS5.0.1
    now its asking me to activate, and is not recognising the sim… it shows searching network and after a long time it shows no network.

    how to get it working

  25. Zidor Norcilien says:

    Zaid, I did the same for my 4g and it woked out!
    try to get a wifi coverage with the at&t simcard inserted then follow the prompt to activate your phone using your wifi connection. If you have an at&t sim card it should work just fine after the activation.
    but if you have another sim card it doesn’t matter whether You had unlocked before the update, you’ll have to unlock it again!

  26. Janet says:

    Hi i dont quite understand how to do this

    i have iphone 4, its not jail broken i updated to ios5 today – BIG MISTAKE!

    i have one back up from july in itunes would that back up to the previous ios4 version i had back then?????

    Janet

  27. [...] If the trade offs are worth it to you, installing Whited00r is very easy for anyone familiar with using IPSW [...]

  28. Dev says:

    I have an iphone 4S i tried to reboot it two days back and while doing so it got stuck on the boot logo and it is still not moving any further. I tried to google it, and all i could do was ‘restore’. I tried to download the iOS 5.0.1 version from itunes, and it takes forever. I’m now downloading it from the link above. What do i do after renaming to ipsw file? What do i do to get it on my iphone?

    Thanks much.

  29. [...] you don’t know how to use IPSW files, you should just update with iTunes or on the device itself using over-the-air downloads. [...]

  30. amaurya says:

    i have tried it for my iphone 4s i have downloaded a IPSW version 5.0.1 but not worked for me

  31. Jes says:

    I have an iPhone 4 running on iOS 4.0.2. Apparently, I’ve lost my passcode. I need to reset/restore the phone to factory defaults.

    Downloaded iOS 4.0.2 IPSW file and tried to restore using the file but I kept getting a 3194 error. I also downloaded IPSW file for the latest firmware version (iOS 5.1). The first time I tried restoring using this it took more than 7hrs before I decided to kill the task via task manager.

    Now, I’m getting the same 3194 error while using the new iOS 5.1 file.

    Please, help! It’s been a week and I’m desperate.

    Thanks in advance :)

  32. [...] and “Save As” for best results. The file extension should be .ipsw and nothing else, using IPSW files is easy but for most users it’s recommended to download through iTunes or the iOS [...]

  33. Me says:

    Am i able to port the iPhone 4S software to my ipod touch (4th gen)?

  34. amaan says:

    my ipod 4gen caanot be updated. an unkwn error occurs saying that coulld not connect to itunes update server. Help please ;)

  35. Muky says:

    Thanks guys. You just save me $$$$$$$! God bless you.

  36. Guam says:

    I am trying to replace an iPod Mini 2Gen 4GB microdrive with a 32GB Compact Flash. I found out I need to copy the “iPod Control Files” to my new flash drive. I am assuming that is the ipsw file.

    My Compact Flash drive is formatted as one partition FAT32.

    Do I need to just copy the ipsw file to the partition and then install the CF drive into the ipod or do I have to do something special like format it into two partitions?

    Can someone please let me know how to get the new CF drive working in my iPod Mini?

    I tried connecting the old microdrive to the computer but my CF reader just gives me an error when I try to connect it to my computer so I cannot just copy the microdrive contents to the CF drive.

    Thank you for your help.

  37. hassan says:

    hey guyz im havin a problem…..plzz help,, wen its extractin i get thiz alert its som sot of an error

  38. vener says:

    i have an iphone 2g, it is already jailbreaked. is it ok to upgrade the software of this iphone from 3.1.2 to 3.1.3? can i might encounter any problems after upgrading? pleas im here inmanila philippines…e help me…

  39. [...] users are better off downloading the update through Apple TV itself, but using iOS firmware files is the same on Apple TV as it is for other iOS devices and requires a USB connection. [...]

  40. Katrina Chua says:

    hi! i’ve been trying to update my iPad 2 WiFi 5.0.1 to 5.1.1 using this. but after extracting software, an unknown error (3194) occurs. what do i do? thank you!

  41. Nilesh says:

    i have upgraded my iphone 4 to version 6. i want to downgrade it to version 5. pl help.

  42. [...] the IPSW file after  6 hours….I was able to install the update using the tip in this link..which basically asked me to press my “SHIFT” key when I hit update button in itunes [...]

  43. BirchNorris says:

    So can i have the iPhone 4s iOS 6 software running on an iPhone 4?

  44. Frank says:

    After I have installed IOS6 my contact are no longer visible on my iPhone 3GS. In iCloud they are still there, but synchronizing with iTunes doesn’t bring a solution. Want to downgrade to IOS 5.1.1 and downloaded iPhone1,2_4.2.1_8C148_Restore.ipsw for 3GS version 4.2.1. Trying to restore results in message that the firmware is not compatible? Can anybode explain me what I’am doing wrong? Please help!

  45. robin says:

    it worked for me ,thanx man!!

  46. sunny leone says:

    after installing ios 5.1.1 and updating it to my iphone an unknown error(3194) is occuring………pleaz cn some1 help me??????

  47. [...] the automatic update procedure. Nonetheless, some advanced users prefer upgrading directly by using IPSW firmware files, and those downloads can be found [...]

  48. Dhanashree says:

    i hv upgraded to ios 6.0.1 and i hav ipsw file for ios 6.0.1 and 6.0
    but wen i try to jailbreak if i choose 6.0 file it says ” error choose a523″ which is ios 6.0.1 ipsw file
    if i choose 6.0 ipsw file it says “file not compatible wid this redsn0w”
    sum1 plz help me….its lyk night mare if i cnnt jailbreak dis ios 6.0.1
    sum1 plz specify what to do ???

  49. Dhanashree says:

    if i choose 6.0.1 file…it says not compatible file….
    help !!!

  50. [...] to know or care about their device being GSM or CDMA. This is really mostly helpful to those who use IPSW (IPSW is iOS firmware, basically the iPhone system software) to either update a device manually, [...]

  51. JD says:

    I keep getting 3194 errror. I have tried all the different versions. It is named IPSW. I have no idea what is the problem.

  52. kel says:

    i downloaded iPhone3,1_6.0_10A403_Restore ipsw for iphone 4 gsm after checking that my iphone 4 is gsm, but when i use it to restore my iphone its showing firmwware not compatible. :(

  53. Peter Schumacher says:

    As I discovered the hard way, in order to upgrade your iPhone OS using an .ipsw file with iTunes, your PC must have an active internet connection, surprisingly. And it does not suffice to just tether off your iPhone for this. In my case, near the end of the installation procedure, after the old OS had been wiped, iTunes gave an error saying it couldn’t connect to the Apple server. Well, duh! So now my iPhone was stuffed. Unbootable. I had to take it to an Apple Store to get the OS installed.

  54. crueldude says:

    Hi downloaded ipsw file with explorer got many files in folder. Restore file big file smaller files. Wich one to change. Plsto. Ipsw.try to make costom ipsw with redsnow.say it does not apear to be a ipsw file can not parce file.after i ziped files as one and put. Ipsw iafter it heeeeeeelp

  55. [...] and not necessary for most users, though it’s not particularly complicated and you can learn how to use them here. Right-click a link below and choose ‘Save As’ for best [...]

  56. Karlly says:

    Everytime i do ipsw update with my itunes i get a 3194 error code. what does this mean and how do i fix this. usually i would to download another file sometimes over 1 gig file. please someone clarify me

  57. [...] As”, ensuring the file extension is .ipsw in order for it to work properly. Though updating with IPSW isn’t too complicated, it is not considered a necessary procedure to know how to do, and most users should stick with the [...]

  58. Ajay Jotwani says:

    hey guys need some real help..
    My phone is jailbreaked and I am having with me a ios 6.1 ipsw file for iphone 4 and i want to restore it from that only but itunes is showing an error 3194..
    As i have some brodband issues so wont be able to direct restore from itunes so can anyone help me plz ?

  59. Jed says:

    How can I tell what is the right ipsw file to update my iPad2, iTunes indicates that (Version 6.1.2) but not sure how to relate that info to the ipsw file they’re labelled differently

  60. [...] users can use IPSW files and manually update the iOS firmware with [...]

  61. [...] those who prefer to use firmware files for manually updating iOS with iTunes, these are direct links to IPSW from Apple’s [...]

  62. [...] Those who prefer to update manually can use IPSW from the direct download links below that are hosted on Apple’s servers. Using IPSW with an Apple TV requires a USB cable and iTunes, and is the same process as with other iOS devices. [...]

  63. anhai says:

    My Iphone 4 is running with OS version 6.0. My question is,
    Do I need install IPSW files for iOS 6 ?

  64. David says:

    i have an ipod 2nd generation can i install the ipod 4th generation IPSW files on it?

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