How to Download iOS 13 on Your iPhone or iPod Touch

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Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 13, hit the scene in September of 2019. As usual, it was packed with Apple’s latest tweaks and enhancements, but it also introduced a host of new features, including the long-awaited Dark Mode.

This update brought with it a selection of worthwhile advancements, but you’ll need to update your device to iOS 13 before you’re able to play with all the latest toys. Here’s how you can update your iPhone or iPod Touch to iOS 13.

Note: For the first time in Apple’s history, the iPad is going its own way and will no longer be tied to iOS. As such, iPads did not receive iOS 13. Instead, the iPad now has its own OS called iPadOS, and we’ve written a separate guide on how to download iPadOS.

Compatible devices

First, make sure your device is capable of running iOS 13. While Apple is noted for supporting older devices with new software updates, some older iPhones that were eligible for iOS 12 did not receive iOS 13. The following iPod Touch and iPhones support iOS 13:

Back up your iPhone or iPod Touch

Backup iPhone

Backing up your device is strongly advised before installing any update, even for released builds. Backing up your data ensures that it will be easy to restore your device if something does go wrong.

You can update your iPhone or iPod Touch using Apple’s iCloud, or by connecting your device to a Mac or PC via iTunes.

Backing up using iCloud

Using iCloud is probably the easiest way to back up your device. Here’s how to do it:

  • Connect to a Wi-Fi network.
  • Head to your Settings app, then select your name and tap iCloud. If you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier, you’ll have to scroll down and tap iCloud.
  • Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup > Back Up Now. If you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier, just tap Backup.

You can check whether the backup is complete by heading back to Settings, hitting iCloud > iCloud Storage > Manage Storage, and tapping on your device from the list.

Backing up on a Mac running MacOS Catalina

MacOS Catalina has done away with Apple’s iconic iTunes, replacing it with separate apps for Books, Podcasts, and Music. However, you can still back up your iOS device on the new MacOS. Here’s how to do it:

  • Connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to your Mac and make sure it is up-to-date.
  • Follow any on-screen instructions if you need to enter your device passcode or Trust This Computer.
  • Open your Finder app and select your iPhone from the sidebar.
  • Hit the General tab, then hit Back Up Now to manually back up to your Mac.

Backing up on a Mac or PC with iTunes

If you’re blessed with an older Mac or Windows PC, then you can still use iTunes to back up your iPhone or iPod Touch. Here’s how to do so:

  • Make sure your iTunes is up-to-date and connect your device.
  • Follow any on-screen instructions if you need to enter your device passcode or Trust This Computer.
  • Select your iPhone or iPod Touch in iTunes.
  • Hit Back Up Now to save your data.

Downloading and installing iOS 13 on your iPhone or iPod Touch

The easiest way to download and install iOS 13 on your iPhone or iPod Touch is to download over the air.

  • On your iPhone or iPod Touch, head to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Your device will check for updates, and a notification about iOS 13 should appear. Tap Download and Install.
  • Updating your device can take a little while, and you won’t be able to use your device while the update is running.

Downloading and installing iOS 13 through iTunes on your Mac or PC

If you prefer, you can also download the iOS 13 update through iTunes on your Mac or PC.

  • Make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of iTunes.
  • Attach your iPhone or iPod Touch to your computer.
  • Open iTunes, select your device, then click Summary > Check for Update.
  • Click Download and Update.

Downloading iOS 14

Apple released the iOS 14 beta at its WWDC 2020 conference in June. It will release the new OS to all compatible iPhone users in September, as is now the annual custom. If you happen to be a developer and have an Apple Developer account, you can download it right now, as explained in our guide on how to download iOS 14 beta. However, if you don’t have an Apple Developer account, you’ll just have to wait until September. Sorry!

Also, assuming you update to iOS 14 in September, but then, for whatever reason, want to downgrade back to iOS 13, it’s likely that you won’t be able to do this. In the past, it had been possible to downgrade from, say, iOS 12 to iOS 11. However, Apple introduced a change in iOS 13 that meant iPhones could only install versions of iOS signed by Apple. As such, even if you find a version of iOS 13 online, it likely won’t be signed by Apple. It’s likely that this practice will continue for iOS 14, so once you jump to iOS 14, there probably won’t be any going back.

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