Install iOS Updates Without Connecting to iTunes

iOS update on iPhone

A new version of the iOS for your device brings new features, bug fixes, and exciting changes to the way you use your phone. Upgrading to a new version of the iOS used to mean that you had to be in front of your computer, had to connect your iOS device to it, download the update to your computer and then install the update via syncing with iTunes. But ever since iOS 5, that's not true anymore. Now you can install iPhone software updates wirelessly.

Here's how.

Since the iPod touch and iPad also run the iOS, these instructions also apply to those devices.

Upgrade iOS on Your iPhone

  1. Begin by backing up your data, whether that's to iCloud or iTunes. It's always a good idea to have a backup of your latest data just in case something goes wrong with the upgrade and you need to restore.
  2. Next, make sure you're connected to a Wi-Fi network. While you could download an update over 3G or LTE, the updates are so big (often hundreds of megabytes, sometimes even gigabytes) that you'll be waiting a really long time—and you'll eat up a ton of your monthly wireless data. Wi-Fi is much easier and faster. You also need to make sure you've got plenty of battery life. The download and installation process can take some time, so if you've got less then 50% battery, plug in to a power source.
  3. Tap the Settings app on your home screen.
  4. Scroll down to General and tap on it.
  1. Tap on the Software Update menu. Your device will check to see whether there's an update. If there is, it will report what it is and what the update will add to your device. Tap the Install Now (iOS 7 and up) or Download and Install (iOS 5-6) button at the bottom of the screen to begin installing the iPhone software update.
  1. You'll be asked whether you want to download over Wi-Fi (you do) and will be reminded to connect to a power source. Tap OK. When the Terms screen appears, tap the Agree button in the bottom right.
  2. The download will then begin. You'll see a blue progress bar moving across the screen. When the download is complete, a window will pop up asking whether you want to install the update now or later. To install now, tap Install.
  3. Your device will now begin installing the update. The screen will turn black and show an Apple logo. Another progress bar will show the installation's progress.
  4. When the iOS update has finished installing, your iPhone will restart.
  5. After that, you may be asked to enter your passcode, Apple ID password, and similar basic information to complete the upgrade and configuration. Do so.
  6. With that done,  you'll be ready to use it with the freshly installed new OS.

Tips for iOS Upgrade

  1. Your iPhone will notify you when there's an update even if you don't check for it. If you see a little red #1 icon on the Settings app on your home screen, that means there's an iOS update available.
  2. You may not have enough empty storage space available on your device to install the update. In that case, you should either delete content you don't need (apps or videos/photos are good places to start) or sync your device and temporarily remove data. In most cases, you can add that data back onto your device after the upgrade.
  1. If something goes wrong with the installation, you have two options for fixing things: Recovery Mode or (if things go really badly) DFU Mode.
  2. If you'd prefer to update in the traditional way, check out this article.
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