How to Upgrade to iOS 11

Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

While it is easy to see the need of upgrading your iPad's operating system when Apple releases cool new features, it's just as important to do the little upgrades as well. Not only do these upgrades fix bugs, they also close security holes to keep you safe from hackers. Don't worry, Apple has made the process of upgrading the operating system on your iPad is rather easy. And the iOS 11 update has some great additions like the new drag-and-drop feature that lets you drag content like photos from one app to another and the newly redesigned dock and task manager screen for easier multitasking.

If you are upgrading from a version previous to iOS 11.0, the update requires around 1.5 GB of free storage space on the iPad, although the exact amount will depend on your iPad and on your current version of iOS. You can check your available space in Settings -> General -> Usage. Find out more about checking usage and clearing up storage space.

There are two ways to upgrade to iOS 11: You can use your Wi-Fi connection, or you can connect your iPad to your PC and update through iTunes. We'll go over each method.

Upgrade to iOS 11 Using Wi-Fi:

Note: If your iPad's battery is under 50%, you will want to plug it into your charger while performing the update.

  1. Go into the iPad's Settings.  (Find out how...)
  2. Locate and tap "General" from the menu on the left.
  3. The second option from the top is "Software Update". Tap this to move into the update settings.
  4. Tap "Download and Install". This will start the upgrade, which will take several minutes and will reboot your iPad during the process. If the Download and Install button is grayed out, trying clearing up some space. The space required by the update is mostly temporary, so you should gain most of it back after iOS 11 is installed. Find out how to free up the needed storage space.
  1. Once the update is installed, you may have to run through the initial steps of setting up your iPad again. This is to account for new features and settings.

Upgrade Using iTunes:

First, connect your iPad to your PC or Mac using the cable provided when you purchased your device. This will allow iTunes to communicate with your iPad.

You will also need the latest version of iTunes. Don't worry, you will be prompted to download the latest version when you launch iTunes. Once it installs, you may be asked to set up iCloud by logging into your iTunes account. If you have a Mac, you may be prompted on whether or not you want to enable the Find my Mac feature.

Now you are ready to begin the process:

  1. If you upgraded iTunes earlier, go ahead and launch it. (For many, it will launch automatically when you plug in your iPad.)
  2. Once iTunes is launched, it should automatically detect that a new version of the operating system exists and prompt you to upgrade to it. Choose Cancel. Before updating, you will want to manually sync your iPad to make sure everything is up to date.
  3. After canceling the dialog box, iTunes should automatically sync with your iPad.
  4. If iTunes doesn't automatically sync, you can manually do it by selecting your iPad within iTunes, clicking on the File menu and choosing Sync iPad from the list.
  5. After your iPad has been synced to iTunes, select your iPad within iTunes. You can find it on the left side menu under Devices.
  6. From the iPad screen, click on the Update button.
  7. After verifying that you want to update your iPad, the process will begin. It takes a few minutes to update the operating system during which time your iPad may reboot a few times.
  1. After updating, you may be asked a few questions when your device finally boots back up. This is to account for new settings and features.

Having problems with iTunes recognizing your iPad? Follow these troubleshooting steps.