How To Download and Install iPhone OS Update on Your iPhone

1
Introduction to Installing iOS Updates

iOS update, step 1

Updates to the iOS, the operating system that runs the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, deliver bug fixes, interface tweaks, and major new features. When a new version comes out, you'll usually want to install it right away.

The release of a major new version of the iOS for the iPhone is usually an event and widely discussed in many places, so you probably won't be surprised by its release. However, if you’re not sure whether you have the newest iPhone operating system, the process of checking — and installing the update, if one is available — is quick and easy.

Begin the upgrade process by syncing your iPhone or iPod touch with your computer, either by Wi-Fi or USB (To learn how to install an iOS update directly to your device using Wi-Fi, and without iTunes, read this article). Syncing is important because it creates a backup of all the data on your phone. You never want to start an upgrade without a good backup of your old data, just in case.

When the sync is complete, look at the top right of the iPhone management screen. You'll see what version of the iOS your device is running and, if there's a new version, a message telling you about it. Beneath that is a button labelled Update. Click it.

2
If An Update Is Available, Continue

iOS update, step 2

ITunes will check to confirm that there’s an update available. If there is, a window will pop up that explains what new features, fixes, and changes the new version of the OS offers. Review it (if you want; you can probably skip it without too much worry) and then click Next.

After that, you'll need to agree to the user license agreement that is included. Read it if you'd like (though I only recommend it if you're very interested in the law or can't sleep) and continue by clicking Agree.

3
The iOS Update Downloads and Installs

iOS update, step 3

Once you've agreed to the terms of the license, the iOS update will begin to download. You'll see the progress of the download, and how much time is left to go, in the panel at the top of the iTunes window. 

Once the OS update downloads, it will be automatically installed on your iPhone or iPod touch. When the installation is complete, your device will automatically restart — and voila, you'll be running the latest software for your phone! 

NOTE: Depending on how much empty storage space you have on your device, you may get a warning saying you don't have enough room to install the update. If you get that warning, use iTunes to remove some content from your device. In most cases, you'll be able to add the data back after the upgrade has finished (upgrades need more space while they're being applied than they do when they run; it's part of the installation process).