How to Downgrade iOS 12 & Remove iOS 12 from iPhone or iPad

Sep 22, 2018 - 13 Comments

How to downgrade iOS 12 and remove iOS 12 from an iPhone or iPad

If you have downloaded and installed iOS 12 onto your iPhone or iPad and now regret doing so for some reason, perhaps a critical app is not supported or some other major game-stopping problem, then you’ll be relieved to know that you can downgrade iOS 12 back to iOS 11.4.1 for a limited time. By downgrading you are effectively removing iOS 12 from the iPhone or iPad and placing the prior stable iOS build back onto the device.


There is some risk involved in attempting to downgrade, mostly the risk is data loss. If you do not have adequate iOS device backups made, you can permanently lose your data. Additionally, backups made from iOS 12 can not restore to iOS 11, so if you do not have an iOS 11 compatible backup available then you will be forced to setup the device that is being downgrade as new, losing any data in that process. This is not to be taken lightly, so be confident that your iOS backup situation is sufficient to insure you avoid data loss.

Requirements for Downgrading from iOS 12

To successfully downgrade from iOS 12, you will need:

  • A Mac or Windows PC with the latest version of iTunes (iTunes 12.8 or iTunes 12.6.5)
  • An internet connection
  • USB cable
  • The iOS 11.4.1 IPSW firmware file for the device you want to downgrade
  • Backups made from iOS 11.4.1, and from iOS 12

Important note about backups: You should have a recent backup made from when the iPhone or iPad was running iOS 11 previously (before you updated to iOS 12 in the first place) because you can not restore an iOS 12 backup to an iOS 11.4.1 device. If your only recent backup is from iOS 12, then the iPhone or iPad will either be stuck on iOS 12 or you would have to reset the device and clear all data from it to downgrade and accept that data loss, because it would be unable to restore data using the iOS 12 backup. Do not take backups lightly. If you have any doubt about your backups or any of this process, don’t attempt to downgrade your device.

Signing status of iOS 11.4.1: The opportunity for downgrading from iOS 12 to iOS 11.4.1 is likely not going to be open for long, and it depends on if Apple is signing the iOS 11.4.1 IPSW firmware files or not. You can learn how to check IPSW signing status here if interested. Once the firmware is no longer signed, downgrading will be impossible, and once on iOS 12 you will only be able to update to future later releases.

How to Downgrade iOS 12

You will want to backup your iPhone or iPad before beginning this process, just in case something goes wrong. If you already have a recent iOS 11.4.1 backup available and you don’t want to backup again while it is running iOS 12, that is your decision. You can backup to iCloud or iTunes, or both.

If you are backing up the iOS 12 device with iTunes then be sure to archive the iOS 11.4.1 backup through iTunes preferences so that the newly created backup doesn’t overwrite the old one.

We are hammering home the importance of backups because data loss is permanent and unrecoverable, which is why it’s absolutely essential to have backups of your iPhone or iPad made before beginning. Failure to have adequate backups can result in permanent data loss, you have been warned.

  1. Do you have your iOS backups situation squared away? If not, do that first
  2. Next, download iOS 11.4.1 IPSW for your particular model iPhone or iPad, you must have the exact model match IPSW file to your device
  3. Place the newly downloaded iOS 11.4.1 .ipsw file somewhere easily accessible like your Desktop or Documents folder
  4. Launch iTunes on the computer
  5. Using the USB cable, connect the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 12 to the computer running iTunes
  6. In iTunes, choose the connected iPhone / iPad and then go to the Summary section for that device
  7. At the device overview screen, look for the section where you see an “Update” and Restore options, then do the following while holding down the appropriate key:
    • Mac iTunes: hold OPTION + click the “Update” button
    • Windows iTunes: hold SHIFT + click the “Update” button
  8. Navigate to and choose the iOS 11.4.1 IPSW file that was downloaded earlier to start the restore process
  9. The iPhone / iPad screen will turn black and ultimately will reboot several times before finishing, do not interfere with the device while the downgrade is occurring

When the downgrade process has completed, the device will be booted back up into iOS 11.4.1 again. You have successfully removed iOS 12 from the iPhone or iPad, and you’ll be back on the version before.

If for whatever reason this approach fails, you can either restore back into iOS 12 through iTunes, or use DFU mode to try again.

Did you downgrade and remove iOS 12 from your iPhone or iPad? Why? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

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

13 Comments

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  1. Orma Dunnsmuir says:

    Good to know, but not necessary.

    There is basically no reason to downgrade for 99% of iPhoners, because iOS 12 is better than iOS 11 (even though it’s mostly like an iOS 11.5 release, but performance is slightly better).

    If the choice is iOS 12 or iOS 11, go with iOS 12. I think the only exception is if you have an app that does not work in iOS 12 that will never be updated to support it… otherwise the minor update to iOS 12 is going to be an improvement.

    • holly says:

      my phone doesn’t recognize ANY hyperlinks anymore. none in my mail. none online in anybrowser none in the app store. ooooffff. never seen an update like this. my apps are working fine. 12 isn’t working well for me.

    • Jeremy says:

      I disagree, since I upgraded my phone is forcing my car to play my voice memo’s over and over again over the bluetooth connection. I can’t hang up, I can’t stop or pause if I close the app it opens back up and just keeps going. Not a good upgrade in my opinion.

    • Secundius says:

      @ justme.

      How many times have you had to Recharge your iPad using iOS 12 as compared to iOS 11 in the last week?/! I’ve done it more that Twice as often, compared to iOS 11…

  2. Justin Thyme says:

    I wanted to downgrade because I was having issues with playing video on “TV” and music on “Music”. I would select a song, album or video and the play button would not respond. Obviously frustrating. So, I was ready to downgrade.

    Followed the steps to Downgrade and then Apple wouldn’t let me downgrade. It offered to restore to OS12. I did because it was all I could do. I wasn’t happy because it meant setting up ApplePay again and all the rest of the security stuff I had just finished.

    Well, surprise surprise! Everything is still available security-wise AND “Films” and “Music” now work. Sometimes a SNAFU just works.

    • erh says:

      If your downgrade to IOS 11.4.1 failed try putting the iPhone into DFU mode first, then restore again from iOS 11.4.1 IPSW file. It works but soon Apple will close the downgrade window by no longer signing the iOS 11 version.

      But yea to your point Justin, sometimes a restore on top of a buggy install helps fix the original buggy problem! It’s essentially reinstalling iOS 12 at that point. Same applies to MacOS, where reinstalling can be helpful for bad troubleshooting issues.

  3. Denise says:

    I’m trying this because a few days after I installed ios12 my mail app started shutting down as soon as I open it. I’ve googled a bunch of different fixes and none have worked so far, including this one. My phone doesn’t seem to want to reinstall ios11.

  4. Denise says:

    Now because it didn’t work, and iTunes won’t restore any backups, Im stuck with a factory restored phone.

  5. Expobill says:

    That is a shame apple users have any issues with upgrades.
    I just hope the ipad does not auto upgrade to 12.
    Im happy with 11!

  6. tallz mons says:

    I download the new update OS X 12 to my iPad air 1…everything ran so slow, or didn’t load at all….terrible for sure…where Jobs when we need him…so im erasing 12 now, and reinstall 11.4…

  7. BRW says:

    Downgrading my iPad because it will not connect the the iPhone hotspot after the upgrade to iOS 12. Spent 3 hours with Genius Bar to sort it out. they could not resolve either.

  8. Dogo says:

    I hate black Books tab in iOS 12 and I cannot turn it off.

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