How to Update an iPad

Find the Software Update option under General in the Settings app

What to Know

  • Update your iPad: Settings > General > Software update.
  • Your iPad will find the latest update it's able to use.
  • The older your iPad, the more likely it is you'll have to use an older version of iPadOS or even iOS.

This article teaches you how to update an iPad, specifically looking at how to manually update an older iPad. It also looks at any issues you may come across while updating an iPad.

How to Update an Old iPad 

Whatever the age of your iPad, it's important to keep your iPad updated because updates provide you with security and bug fixes so your experience is more reliable. Fortunately, the process is quite simple but make sure to back up your iPad before following these steps. Here's how to update an old iPad.

The process is the same for any age of iPad but how much you can update it may vary.

  1. On your iPad, tap Settings.

    iPad home screen with Settings highlighted.
  2. Tap General.

  3. Tap Software Update.

    iPad Settings with Software Update highlighted.
  4. Wait for your iPad to finish searching for updates.

    The older the iPad, the longer this process may take.

  5. Tap Download and Install to complete the update process.

    iPad Settings with a software update downloading on screen.

    This can take 20-30 minutes even though the time remaining stated is often much shorter.

How to Update Your iPad Using Your Computer

If you would prefer to update your iPad via your computer instead of using Wi-Fi, here's how to do so. 

Windows users will need to open iTunes to update using their PC but can follow the below steps almost exactly the same. These steps relate to using a Mac with your iPad. 

  1. Connect your iPad to your Mac.

  2. In Finder, click the iPad name in the Sidebar.

    MacOS Finder with iPad Mini device name highlighted.
  3. Click Trust.

    You may also need to click Trust on the iPad.

  4. Click Check for Update.

    MacOS Finder with iPad Mini open and Check for update highlighted.
  5. Click Download and Update.

  6. Wait for the update to finish and for your iPad to restart.

    This can take some time, especially with older iPads. 

Can My iPad Be Updated?

The older your iPad, the less likely is it you can update it to the latest version of iPadOS. In some cases, you won't even be able to use iPadOS, instead being left with iOS—the previous operating system for iPads. Here's a look at which iPads can be updated and to what operating system.

 iPad - 1st generation (2010)  iOS 5.1.1
 iPad 2 - 2nd generation (2011), iPad - 3rd generation (early 2012) and iPad Mini 1st generation (2012)  iOS 9.3.5
 iPad with Retina Display - 4th generation (2012) iOS 10.3.4
iPad Mini 2 - 2nd generation (2013), iPad Mini 3 3rd generation (2014) and iPad Air 1st generation (2013) iOS 12.5.5
All newer iPads iPadOS 15

What Do I Do if My iPad Won’t Update? 

There's no way of updating an iPad to a version of software the hardware doesn't support. However, if that's not the reason why it won't work, here's a quick overview of how to fix an iPad that won't update.

  • You're offline. If you aren't connected to the internet via Wi-Fi or cellular, you won't be able to update unless you connect your iPad to your computer.
  • You don't have sufficient space. Updates take up a lot of storage space. Check you have enough room for the update before trying again.
  • The Apple servers are overloaded. Apple servers are fairly stable but when a new update has just been released, everyone can be trying to update at the same time. Try again during an off-peak time.
  • How do I update apps on an iPad?

    First, open the App Store and select your profile image in the corner to open the Account page. Scroll down and select Update next to an app that has a new version available. You can also select Update All.

  • How do I update a browser on an iPad?

    You can update browsers with dedicated apps you download, like Chrome, through the App Store: Select your profile image, and then select Update next to the app. Safari updates along with iOS or iPadOS; you can't download a new version separately.

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