How to leave iOS 13 public beta and go back to iOS 12

Beta life isn't for everyone. If there are too many bugs, you can roll back.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

Stability is king, and iOS 13 currently lacks the polish of an official iOS release. Thankfully, it's possible to go back to iOS 12. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Using beta versions of iOS or iPadOS takes a level of patience in dealing with bugs, poor battery life and features that just don't work. If you recently decided to install iOS 13 or iPadOS when Apple launched the public beta, only to start regretting it a few days later despite all of the (sometimes hidden) new features -- there's good and (potentially) bad news. 

The good news is that you can go back to the current official version of iOS 12, and the process isn't overly complicated or difficult. The bad news depends on whether or not you created a back up of your iPhone or iPad before you installed the beta.

Plan on spending about an hour (longer if your internet connection is slow) to get back to iOS 12.

Watch this: iOS 13 beta's best tricks to try

You did back up, right?

Hopefully, before installing the public beta, you created a backup of your device. Without a backup, before you took the iOS 13 plunge, you're going to be left setting up your device as new. 

Why? A backup created on iOS 13 cannot be used to restore a device on iOS 12. And in order to leave the beta and go back to the latest official version of iOS, you need to install iOS 12 through recovery mode. The downside here is that if you've been using iOS 13 for several weeks, you'll lose any new data that's accumulated on your device since your last backup.


Hopefully you backed up your iPhone or iPad before installing iOS 13. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Enough bugs, it's time to go back to iOS 12

Before you begin, you'll need to make sure your computer has the latest version of iTunes installed. If you're not sure, launch iTunes and you should receive a prompt to update if it's out of date.

Next, open iTunes and connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer with the appropriate cable. The next step requires putting your device into Recovery Mode, which is a little tricky because the process varies depending on your device.

iPhone 8 or newer: Press the volume up button, followed by volume down, then press and hold the side button. Hold in the side button until you see the recovery mode screen.

iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the volume down button at the same time. Hold in both buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.

iPhone 6S or older, or an iPod touch: You will need to press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the home button at the same time. Hold in both buttons until you see the recovery mode screen.

iPad users: Hold in the Sleep/Wake button and the home button at the same time. If you have a new iPad Pro with Face ID, you'll need to press and release the volume up then volume down, followed by holding in the side button.


Make sure you select Restore and not Update when going back to iOS 12. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When iTunes detects a device in Recovery Mode, it prompts you to restore or update the device. Click Restore followed by Restore and Update

The rest of the process is handled by iTunes; just follow the prompts. Your device will restart multiple times throughout the process -- don't disconnect your phone from your computer until it tells you it's safe to do so.

Once the iTunes is done installing the latest version of iOS 12, you'll have a chance to restore it from a backup, be it in iTunes or via iCloud.

If you're not convinced going back to iOS 12 is worth the work, make sure you check out our complete guide to iOS 13. It won't help with any issues you're facing, but perhaps you'll learn something about iOS 13 that makes it worth dealing with random app crashes on the daily.