How to Download iOS Updates Without iTunes
You can download any iOS software updates for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch without using iTunes. There are actually two ways to do this, the first is using the iOS device itself but there are caveats and limitations with that, and then there is the traditional method of downloading the update files directly from Apple without iTunes, which is particularly helpful for those who rely on download managers or who are just encountering trouble with iTunes automatic updates.
We will cover both methods of obtaining iOS software without using iTunes to download it, we’ll start with the easiest method of using the device itself to get the iOS update. This applies to all modern versions of iOS.
Download iOS Updates Directly to the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
Thanks to OTA (standing for Over The Air) updates, you can also download updates to iOS directly on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch without even using iTunes. There is a caveat here though, and that is the device must be running system software later than version iOS 5.0, so older hardware may be left out. In any case, if you are running iOS 5 or later, you can use OTA to update iOS with no attachment to a computer or PC whatsoever.
- Tap on “Settings” and tap on “General”
- Tap on “Software Update” to see if any update is available for the over the air download
If an update is available, tapping on Download and Install will finish the process for you with no attachment to a computer and no iTunes at all. Very nice!
This is by far the easiest way to get the iOS update installed onto a device and requires no computer at all, the whole thing is completed on the iPhone or iPad.
Download iOS Updates Without iTunes
You can always download iOS IPSW files without iTunes, and then update the software using iTunes itself.
Select your iOS hardware to get a complete list of iOS updates for that device:
- View all new iOS IPSW versions and files
- iPhone IPSW Downloads
- iPad IPSW Downloads
- iPod touch IPSW Downloads
Note that you will still need to use iTunes to install the iOS update on your hardware.
The iOS update file has downloaded, now what?
Once you have downloaded the IPSW file that corresponds with your iOS device:
- Launch iTunes
- Option+Click (Mac OS X) or Shift+Click (Windows) the Update button
- Select the IPSW update file you just downloaded
- Let iTunes update your hardware to the latest version
That’s all there is to it. This is often a more reliable way to get an iOS update immediately, sometimes iTunes will time out during the download when an iOS update has just been released, this is probably due to server overload.
Frankly, it’s often faster to just download the update files directly from Apple since they are delivered through a CDN they tend to go at or near your maximum download speeds.
On a side note, if you attempted to download an iOS update from within iTunes and it failed, you may want to trash the file it downloaded. You can do this by going to the IPSW file location and just deleting the file. Sometimes this alone can resolve iOS download problems too.
Updated on 4/12/2015