Can You Uninstall iOS 7?

iOS 7
image credit: Hoch Zwei/Contributor/Corbis News/Getty Images

Millions of people upgraded to iOS 7 within a week or two of Apple releasing it in Sept. 2013. Many of them were thrilled by the new features and new design. Another group, however, hated the major changes—a new interface and apps—that came with the upgrade. If you're among the people unhappy with iOS 7, you may be wondering if there's a way to uninstall iOS 7 and return to iOS 6.

Unfortunately, for the average user, there is no way to downgrade iOS 7.

Technically a downgrade may be possible—it's discussed towards the end of this article—but it's difficult and requires serious technical skill.

Why You Can't Downgrade from iOS 7

In order to understand why there's no easy way to downgrade from iOS 7 to iOS 6, you need to understand something about how Apple distributes the iOS.

During the process of installing a new version of the iOS on your device—whether that's a major upgrade like iOS 7, or a minor update like iOS 6.0.2—the device connects to Apple's servers. It does this so it can check to make sure that the OS you're installing is "signed," or approved, by Apple (many other companies have a similar process). This is a very important step, because it ensures that you're installing a legitimate, official, secure version of the iOS and not something that is malfunctioning or has been tampered with by hackers. If Apple's servers confirm that the version you're trying to install is signed, all is well and the upgrade continues. If not, the installation is blocked.

This step is so crucial because if Apple stops signing a given version of the iOS, then you won't be able to install the unsigned versions. That's what the company has done with iOS 6.

Whenever the company releases a major new version of the OS, Apple continues to sign the previous version for a short period of time to allow people to downgrade if they want to. In this case, Apple signed both iOS 7 and iOS 6 for a little while, but stopped signing iOS 6 in Sept. 2013. This means that you can't install iOS 6 any longer on any devices.

What About Jailbreaking?

But what about jailbreaking, some of you may be asking. If my device is jailbroken, can I downgrade? The quick answer is yes, but the longer and more accurate answer is that it's pretty difficult.

If your phone is jailbroken, it's possible to restore to older versions of the iOS no longer signed by Apple, if you've backed up something called SHSH blobs for the older OS you want to go back to.

I'll spare you the full nitty gritty on what this means (this site has a detailed technical explanation of SHSH blobs and the downgrade process), but SHSH blobs pieces of code are related to the OS signing mentioned earlier in the article. If you have them, you can essentially trick your iPhone into running code that's no longer signed by Apple. 

But there's a catch: you need to have saved your SHSH blobs from the version of the iOS you want to downgrade to before Apple stopped signing it. If you don't have that, downgrading is pretty much impossible. So, unless you saved your SHSH blobs before upgrading to iOS 7, or can find a reliable source for them, you can't go back.  

Why You Should Stick with iOS 7

So, if you're on iOS 7 and don't like it, there's not much that can be done. That said, people often object to the idea of change more than the change itself. IOS 7 is a big change from iOS 6 and will take some getting used to, but give it some time. You may find that after a few months the things you don't like about it now are familiar and no longer bother you.

That may be especially true with some of the major new features introduced in iOS 7, including Control Center, Activation Lock, and AirDrop. It also fixed a ton of bug and added more security features.