How to Check IPSW Signing Status

Oct 15, 2016 - 17 Comments

Checking IPSW signing status

Whether or not an IPSW firmware file is signed determines whether or not you can use that IPSW to update iOS or whether or not you can downgrade iOS to a prior version. Put simply, if an IPSW firmware file is not being signed by Apple through their servers, it can not be used to place onto an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

This leads to a fairly obvious question; how do you know if a particular IPSW iOS version is being signed by Apple or not?

By far the easiest way to check if an IPSW file is being signed is to check with a website like iNeal TSS (and yes you can do it yourself through Terminal but it’s a cumbersome process beyond what most users are interested in engaging with when just looking at a website gives you the same answer).

How to Check IPSW Firmware Signing Status

Here’s what you’ll want to do:

  1. First you’ll want to identify the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV, get the identifier product ID for the device so that you can check it against the list
  2. Head to the iNeal API TSS site here (this is an unofficial site) and locate the device you are looking to check IPSW signing status for*
  3. Now find the build number or iOS version release that coincides with what you wish to check, if the “signing” column says “YES” and is in green you can still use the IPSW, if it says “NO” it is no longer being signed and is unusable
  4. If the IPSW is being signed, find a download link for the firmware in question so that you can use it, we typically post IPSW download links and link them here as they become available for each new iOS release

Pretty straight forward, right?

It’s important to remember that using IPSW files is considered advanced, and the vast majority of iPhone and iPad users are better off updating their devices from iTunes or with the Software Update option in Settings app. Attempting to use the wrong IPSW for a mismatched device will not work, and obviously neither will using an IPSW file that is no longer signed by Apple. Thus, if you ever decide to go this route, check to make sure the IPSW is being signed, and check to make sure you are getting the proper firmware file for the device you intend to use.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

17 Comments

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  1. junebeetle says:

    What if it isn’t being signed? Is there some way you can set the clock to an earlier date or anything?

    • Paul says:

      No, there is no way to downgrade if the IPSW of that iOS software is no longer being signed by Apple. This is why you can usually only downgrade a device for a limited time when a new release comes out, after which it is not possible.

  2. Sammy Note 7 4eva says:

    Apple should sign the previous iOS version for a year, not a few days like they do…

    • Troy says:

      I agree. Personally I think Apple should sign all stable iOS releases indefinitely, but not support them. Yes that means some new apps might not work, but that is the users decision to manage. This way if you have to restore an old device to an old version, you can do so without being forced to update to a newer version which may not work well for the intended environment. The reality is sometimes old software is better on old hardware, that has been the case for years with every electronic device that has ever ran an operating system. Look at the earlier iPad models running Forstall’s OS version, the performance is clearly superior compared to the same hardware struggling to run an Ive OS.

      • avenged110 says:

        At least to mitigate any potential security concerns Apple may have, they really should sign all firmware versions for any device that no longer receives updates (e.g. iPhone 4S and earlier).

  3. Satya says:

    so now can I downgrade to 9.3.3 cuz my phone “signing” column says “YES”

    • Farhad says:

      Satya, if you read the instructions you will see how to check if the IPSW version is signed, allowing downgrades and restores to that version. Check the firmware signing.

  4. trapnanana says:

    what happens if you already downloaded a signed ipsw file and you look back on the website and they unsigned it , will this affect the downgrading process on my device ?

  5. bob says:

    if you already have an downloaded ipsw file that was already signed by apple and later on you check the website and they unsigned it, can you still downgrade whether still you downloaded a signed ipsw file before?

    • BoTGuy says:

      No, if the IPSW is not actively being signed by Apple you can not use it to downgrade.

      There is no exception to this, though rarely Apple will start signing an old IPSW sometimes for an unknown reason. Without digital signing, it is not usable.

  6. Lorenzo says:

    can you still downgrade if you still have a signed ipsw file you downloaded before?

    • Dan says:

      Lorenzo
      The ipsw files themselves are not signed. The signing status is centralized at Apple and once Apple cut the signing then there is no return.

      Previously in the older days with jailbreaking and a software called tinyumbrella and some other tools one could bake the signing inside an ipsw file and with the help with special “blobs” files one could revert to an older iOS version even when Apple has stopped the signing

  7. Lorenzo says:

    could you use any ipsw that is signing ios 9 to downgrade any of your devicce ?

  8. s says:

    can you use any ipsw to downgrade your device that is signing ios 9

  9. Avital says:

    I looked at the page you gave a link to. It says “YES” for iOS 10.3.3 for iphone5, (no specific for 5s like mine), in green! This means Apple still signs for this iOS, right?
    Does that mean we can still downgrade to it from the much hated iOS 11?
    Also, I don’t have a backed up version from before the up grade. If all else fails, can I downgrade to 10.3 still? I don’t mind losing anything on the phone. I can start anew. I just want that operating system.
    Thank you.

  10. Avital says:

    11 just hurts my eyes and gives me a headache with all the zooming and flying in and out. Looks like they tried to make it look like water. Disgusting!

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