How to Use IPSW files

Nov 23, 2010 - 101 Comments


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 or Finder. 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 or iPadOS device to be safe.

How to Use IPSW Files to Update iOS or iPadOS

You can use IPSW files on Mac or Windows, both require iTunes or Finder on modern MacOS to work properly. To use the latest version of IPSW firmware files to update or restore an iOS or iPadOS 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 or Finder
  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, Finder, or OTA via the Settings app on their device, 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.

Rarely, firmware files are required to restore a malfunctioning iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that is basically bricked, but still functional. This is somewhat rare, but if an iOS update is interrupted it can happen, which usually requires a device be placed into DFU mode and restored manually with firmware. Typically a normal iTunes based restore is sufficient, which is why that is fairly rare.

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 used for jailbreaking. This is a fairly dated approach however, and 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 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, and iPadOS after 13.0. Not all versions of iPadOS and iOS IPSW will work on all devices, so be sure to select the proper version for your hardware, and to use the latest which is supported. Finally, it’s important to remember that IPSW files must be signed by Apple to be usable to restore onto a device, you can learn about checking IPSW signing status here if interested.


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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. James Scott says:


  2. Pax says:

    Hi, got an iphone 7 with a bad signal issue or does not have signal. I am using is an tablet without signal. And is stuck at OS9, gets error with updating. Techs say there is a problem with the airband. Do not wish to have it repaired. Is it possible to bypass this error, with IPSW direct update?

  3. KHAN says:

    my iphone 7 plus got stuck on boot loop and can not install flash from computer and showing error plz tell me what to do…

  4. William says:

    Thanx for the update

  5. Tennison says:

    Thanks you saved me! An iPad 2 running ios8 isnt a good idea… just for the heck of it and to take a walk down memory lane I’m gonna IPSW my iPad 2 down to ios 5! Very exited.

  6. Pete says:

    Thanks for the tip, update went well!

  7. sabrina says:

    the software update on my phone says 10.3.2 but i dont want it couz its too big now how can download ios 10.3.1 if it is not displayed anymore

  8. LOB zirdo says:

    how to restore i phone 6s

  9. dina says:

    hello there i have a disabled iphone 5s how to i restore and use that phone please help mee

  10. kush says:


  11. sanjiv bhatia says:

    i have a japan iphone 6. Can i install iOS 9.3.3 using ipsw file downloaded from any website or is it country specific?

    Will I get regular updates after installing iOS usinf ipsw file?

    please reply.

    • Paul says:

      You should only download and use IPSW from Apple. If the links to the IPSW files do not point to Apple servers (typically, you should not download them. We link to IPSW which are hosted at Apple servers for each iOS version, including iOS 9.3.3, here:

  12. jobelle zuniega says:

    can i install firmware for ipa on a ipad mini? is that posiible? need answer pls.. thanks..

  13. V says:

    THIS worked for me after hours of trying other things. THANKS!

  14. Robert says:

    i am currentley on ios 9.3 public beta (iphine 6). If i update using an IPSW with Itunes, can I then still use the over the air updates in the future on my iphone or do i have to keep installing the IPSW’s.

  15. Andy wright says:

    I need help what app store

  16. Bestawi says:

    Hello guys,

    I’m still new when it comes to Iphone solutions and my GF Iphone stopped working all of a sudden and showing a white page with a black apple in the middle all of the time, what should I do ?

    is it a software or hardware issue ?

    please help

  17. Anders Eklov says:

    Thanks! This was a last resort for me cause I have an iPad that would not update/restore because of a network issue at apple. So i just downloaded the latest 8.4.1 ipsw file and option-clicked on the “restore” button, and it worked! Nothing with apple is ever this fast (NOT counting the “Apple normal OTA” way I tried for 2 f****ng days before…)

    Apple should spend more time using this stuff, instead of just selling it.


  18. deram26 says:

    Sir, I am trying to factory reset my iPad2 but iTunes got frozen after the SW reinstallation. As soon as the firmware starts to install it looks that there is no progress anymore on the apple progress bar on the iPad. After one hour I receive a message “could not reset your iPad for an unknown reason”. What I am doing wrong?
    It is an iPad2, model A1396, Wi-Fi + 3G (GSM)

    How can I choose the right ipws file for my iPad?
    Why iTunes does not install automatically the firmware?
    All information is welcome. Thanks.

  19. shubham says:

    sir,i am jailbrak my ipad successfuly after some time. i am erase all data and reset my ipad. now its stop on apple logo and after battery is low and i connect to charger is not work.please give solution

  20. Ashu qadri says:

    I tried on many websites for the correct method of restoring my iphone by .ipsw file…
    Awesome answer …. Nicely worked… Thank you

  21. Antor Ferdous says:

    I have an iPod 4g with iOS 5.0.1 currently running in it? can i use IPSW file to degrade it back to 4.3.3(the version it was preinstalled with)?

  22. David says:

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

  23. anhai says:

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

  24. […] 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. […]

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

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

  27. 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

  28. 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 ?

  29. […] 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 […]

  30. 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

  31. […] 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 […]

  32. 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

  33. 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.

  34. 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. :(

  35. 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.

  36. […] 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, […]

  37. Dhanashree says:

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

  38. 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 ???

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

  40. 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??????

  41. robin says:

    it worked for me ,thanx man!!

  42. 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!

  43. BirchNorris says:

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

  44. […] 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 […]

  45. Nilesh says:

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

  46. 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!

  47. […] 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. […]

  48. 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…

  49. hassan says:

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

  50. 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.

  51. Muky says:

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

  52. amaan says:

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

  53. Me says:

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

  54. […] 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 […]

  55. 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 :)

  56. amaurya says:

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

  57. […] 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. […]

  58. 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.

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

  60. 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?????


  61. 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!

  62. Zaid says:


    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

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

  64. […] 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 。 […]

  65. 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…

  66. adriana says:

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

  67. 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!

  68. Jon says:

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

  69. 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 ?


  70. Connor says:

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

  71. 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.


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

  73. […] (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 […]

  74. 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

  75. nik says:

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

  76. 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


  77. Linda says:

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

  78. Enrique says:

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

  79. tico says:

    thank you for this nice tip. :)

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

  81. 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.

  82. 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:

      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

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

  84. 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.

  85. 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.

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