How to downgrade your iPad from iOS 9 beta, and restore it to iOS 8.x

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During the World Wide Developer Conference a little over two weeks ago, Apple released the first beta version of iOS 9 to developers.  Many tech bloggers expect the public release of iOS 9 later this summer to be a “minor” upgrade from iOS 8 in terms of “new” features.  However,  it is widely believed that a concentrated effort made to focus primarily on stability and performance would be a welcomed deviation with an operating system as mature as iOS.  The lack of a “laundry list” of new features is unlikely to deter the die-hard iOS faithful, and probably won’t play a big role in discouraging users from wanting to test out the beta.

There is always a electric buzz in the air this time of year for Apple and iOS.  WWDC serves as the kindling for the summer excitement that continues to catch fire and build until new iPhones and iPads are released alongside a refreshed version of  iOS in late September/early October.  With this excitement, comes a desire by many to acquire access to an iOS developer account which grants them certain “privileges” the average consumer must wait for–specifically, the ability to download the latest beta version of iOS ahead of the public launch.

With great power, comes great responsability

I know what you’re thinking–I _really_ want to try out iOS 9 NOW–I don’t care that it’s still in beta.  Well, truth-be-told, beta is beta.  Pre-released versions of iOS software are released exclusively for those who develop for Apple, and iOS.  Access to beta software aids developers in making their apps the best they can be so that when the newest iPads and iPhones are released to the public their apps work from the start.  From Apple…

This version of iOS is intended only for installation on development devices registered with the Apple Developer Program. Attempting to install this version of iOS in an unauthorized manner could put your device in an unusable state, which could necessitate an out of warranty repair.

This is a pre-release version of iOS 9 for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Devices updated to iOS 9 can not be restored to earlier versions of iOS.

I don’t know why Apple indicates that, once you are running a new version of beta software, you can not restore your devices to earlier versions of iOS.  This is simply not true.  So, if you were one of many out there who had access to iOS 9 beta1 or 2, and you realized that you iPad now runs like a slug in mud, or restarts often, or your favorite apps are broken at the moment–no worries, we’ve got you covered.  Here’s how you can downgrade back to iOS 8.x.

Downgrading your iPad to iOS 8.x


1>Turn off Find My iPad in your Settings

2> Download the ISPW file matching your device.  Currently, Apple is only signing iOS 8.3, so this will be the version of iOS you will be adding back to your device.

3> Hopefully you previously backed-up your device to iTunes before you installed the beta software.  If not, make sure you back it up to iCloud now, since you will not be able to restore to an iTunes back-up from iOS 9 beta.  Updating to an iCloud version is more convenient as long as your have a Wi-Fi connection, but iTunes will offer a quicker download.

4> If you haven’t already, open iTunes and connect your iPad with you charging cord, unless you have previously set your iPad to synch over Wi-Fi.  Although, to be honest, a hard wire connection is probably the safer bet, just in case your Wi-Fi signal is interrupted forcing you to start over.

5> Choose your iPad in the iTunes menu.  Then, on your Mac press the alt/option key while selecting Restore iPad. Select the ISPW file you previously downloaded for your iPad, and select Open.  You will be asked if you would like to back up your settings.  That’s up to you, but if you just backed them up, there’s no need to do it again.

6> You will be alerted that all of your media and other data will be erased.  No worries, you will eventually have the option to restore to a backed-up version that you have recently saved.

7> Your iPad will now wipe clean and iOS 8.3 (as of today) will be installed on your iPad.

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