How To: Downgrade iOS 14 Back to iOS 13.5.1 on Your iPhone Using Finder or iTunes

Downgrade iOS 14 Back to iOS 13.5.1 on Your iPhone Using Finder or iTunes

Apple's latest iPhone update, iOS 14, is finally here. It might not be all good news, however. Home screen widgets, App Clips, and a revamped Messages app might not be worth it if the software itself is a buggy mess. If you're finding iOS 14 too problematic right now, you can still downgrade your iPhone back to iOS 13.5.1.

It's not necessarily a bad thing that iOS 14 isn't perfect right now. The software is currently in beta testing, so bugs are to be expected. Apple won't release iOS 14 to the public until sometime this fall, after receiving feedback from beta testers for the next few months. Still, if you jumped on board the beta, knowing bugs will be fixed sometime later this year likely isn't good enough for you.

But iOS 14 won't be a beta forever. Apple will eventually release the update to the world. Soon after, it'll stop signing iOS 13.5.1, which means most people's iPhones will forever be frozen on iOS 14.

Until Apple stops signing iOS 13.5.1, however, you still have a few ways to downgrade without going through too many hoops. The bad news? If you didn't make an archived backup of your iPhone before upgrading to iOS 14, you'll, unfortunately, lose all of your saved data.

Step 1: Disable 'Find My iPhone'

Before your iPhone can be restored, "Find My iPhone" needs to be disabled. You might have needed to do this if you've ever taken your iPhone to the Apple Store. While you can wait to do this until further into the process, as iOS will ask you to disable the feature when applicable, doing so now will just eliminate any snags or potential issues.

To start, open "Settings," tap your name at the top of the display, then tap "Find My." Now, tap "Find My iPhone," then tap the toggle next to "Find My iPhone" to disable the feature. You'll just need to enter your Apple ID and password before iOS can disable Find My iPhone.

Step 2: Download the Right Restore Image

To restore your iPhone to a previous version of iOS, you'll need the right restore image for that both that iOS version and your particular iPhone model. This 13.5.1 restore image will be an IPSW file, and will require a computer to download properly.

We're focusing on iPhones for this guide, but the process is exactly the same for iPad and iPod touch. You'll find restore images for those devices as well. Keep in mind, these restore image files are huge, so don't be surprised if the download time is long. You'll find the downloaded file in your Mac or PC's "Downloads" folder.

iOS 13.5.1 Restore Images

iPadOS 13.5.1 Restore Images

Step 3: Connect Your iPhone to Finder or iTunes

Once your IPSW completely finishes downloading, connect your iPhone into your Mac or Windows computer via a Lightning to USB or Lightning to USB-C cable.

Option 1: Using Finder

If you're using macOS Catalina, your iPhone should appear as a drive under Locations in Finder. If your iPhone doesn't appear immediately, look for the "Unlock iPhone to Use Accessories" notification on your iPhone. If it's there, unlock the phone.

When you connect your iPhone to the computer for the very first time, you may see a prompt asking you to "Trust This Computer." If so, just follow the instructions to trust it. You might also see "Trust iPhone" when you select your iPhone in Finder.

You should find your iPhone under Locations in Finder's sidebar. Click it. Alternatively, you can double-click on it from your Desktop. Now, click on the "General" tab, if not already there.

Option 2: Using iTunes

If your computer runs Windows or macOS Mojave or lower, you should see iTunes open on its own. If not, look at your iPhone's lock screen. If you see "Unlock iPhone to Use Accessories," unlock your iPhone.

When you connect your iPhone to the computer for the very first time, you might also see a prompt asking you to "Trust This Computer." Just follow the instructions to do so. Finally, iTunes might ask you to update iTunes as well to properly connect your iPhone.

You'll see your iPhone appear under Devices in the sidebar, as well as next to the media dropdown once it connects. Click either to open the Summary screen.

Step 4: Install the Older iOS Version

Apple makes this process similar between iTunes and Finder, but there are minor differences. You'll find two separate directions below based on the app you're using to install iOS.

Option 1: Using Finder

Hold down the Option key, then choose "Restore iPhone" in Finder's General page.

Here, a file browser pop-up will appear. Find your IPSW file, click it, then choose "Open."

Now, a pop-up will appear, instructing you that iOS 13.5.1 will be installed on your iPhone. This action will overwrite iOS 14. Click "Restore" to continue. Keep an eye on your iPhone — you might need to enter your passcode during installation.

Make sure to keep your iPhone connected to your computer until it reboots, and you see the iOS 13.5.1 welcome screen. Once that screen comes on, you're safe to disconnect your iPhone.

Option 2: Using iTunes

If using a Mac, hold down the Option key, then click "Restore iPhone" in Summary in iTunes. On Windows, you should do the same, but hold down Shift instead.

Next, a file browser menu will appear. Find the IPSW file, select it, then choose "Open."

Now, a pop-up will appear, instructing you that iOS 13.5.1 will be installed on your iPhone. This action will overwrite iOS 14. Click "Restore" to continue. Keep an eye on your iPhone — you might need to enter your passcode during installation.

Make sure to keep your iPhone connected to your computer until it reboots, and you see the iOS 13.5.1 welcome screen. Once that screen comes on, you're safe to disconnect your iPhone.

Step 5: Restore Your iPhone from a Backup

Since you downgraded your iPhone with a restore image, all of your data will be lost. If you have a compatible backup, either in iCloud or iTunes, use the following steps to get back up and running with all your photos, settings, and other data.

Downgrading your iPhone via a restore image erases all of your data. If you made an iTunes or iCloud backup before this process, you can use the following steps to restore your data on your iPhone running iOS 13.5.1.

  • If you want your iPhone to start with a clean slate, tap "Set Up as New iPhone."
  • If you want your saved apps and data restored, tap "Restore from iCloud" if you have a completed backup for iOS 13.5.1 If you backed up your iPhone on iOS 14, iOS would make you update back to iOS 14, so you might be stuck with "Set Up as New iPhone" anyway.
  • If you made an archived backup in iTunes for iOS 13.5.1, you can tap "Restore from iTunes Backup."

If you decide to restore your iPhone from that archived backup, you'll need to keep your iPhone connected to iTunes and select your iPhone there. Now, click "Restore Backup," choose your archived backup, then choose "Restore." You can tell if this backup is archived if you see the date and time in the backup name.

If you encrypted your 13.5.1 backup, you'd need to enter your password to continue. Now, wait for the restore to finish before unplugging your iPhone from your computer. Once syncing is complete, your iPhone will be running your iOS 13.5.1 version with all data restored.

An encrypted backup for iOS 13.5.1 will require your password in order to continue. Just wait for the restore to finish before disconnecting your iPhone from your Mac or PC. Once finished, your iPhone will be running your archived iOS 13.5.1 version, complete with all the data saved at the time.

Keep Your Connection Secure Without a Monthly Bill. Get a lifetime subscription to VPN Unlimited for all your devices with a one-time purchase from the new Gadget Hacks Shop, and watch Hulu or Netflix without regional restrictions.

Buy Now (80% off) >

Cover image and screenshots by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

Daily iPhone Hacks

Direct to your inbox.

1 Comment

Need this real bad. My iPhone XR's battery drains a lot faster aftering upgrading to iOS14.

Share Your Thoughts

  • Hot
  • Latest