What is IPSW File and How to Download it?

If you are an iOS/Apple TV user, then you probably heard about mysterious IPSW file. This article will help you to understand what does IPSW mean, why you need this file and how to get it.

Just like any other smartphone/tablet/computer, Apple devices have their own operating system called iOS. In most cases iOS works perfectly fine, therefore the user has no need downloading ROM files. But from time to time bad things happen. You can find yourself with a glitched device, corrupted OS or any other bug, which prevents your iPad or iPhone to operate properly.

What is an IPSW?

Again, like any other OS, Apple developers gave every user the opportunity to manually reflash iOS-devices (watchOS and tvOS too, since they are all the same iOS with minor differences) using iTunes and special file with IPSW extension. Exactly that is what IPSW file is made for. Talking shortly, IPSW file is an archive with a big set of files, used by the operating system of your devices. It includes thousands of DMG, IM4P, PLIST, BBFW, and other files. iTunes unpacks these files and then flash them to your phone via USB cable. This procedure is not very difficult and almost everyone can easily download IPSW file and then flash it to fix iPad/iOS/Apple TV manually, without the need to ask for a premium repair (especially, if the device is out of warranty). Of course, this is applicable if the problem is related to a software bug or corruption.

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There is also another scenario when you need an IPSW file. If you are a beginning developer and want to test your apps on the pre-release version of iOS, then you need to download a beta from Apple in form of IPSW file and install it on your phone/tablet. The same goes backward. If you have been testing a beta version of iOS (for whatever purpose – just curiosity or apps testing) and then decided to roll back on a stable release, you again need an IPSW archive with operating system files.

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How to Download IPSW File?

There is a very simple way to get the IPSW file for your iOS devices, you can do this via ipsw.me website. It contains literally every iOS ever released for every iOS devices ever existed in public. The only thing is that you can’t get betas from ipsw.me – this website is for stable, public releases only. If you want to install beta, pre-release version of iOS, you must register in Apple iOS Developer Program or Apple Beta Software Program and then download early versions of iOS directly to your devices.

Open ipsw.me on your computer and select your device – iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV or even Apple Watch (watchOS is basically the same iOS). Please notice, that you can’t download IPSW directly to your iOS devices. You need to download it to a computer and then flash IPSW using iTunes only. There’s simply no other way to do that.

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Select specific device model (for example, iPad 5 Gen Wi-Fi only).

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Then choose an IPSW file. Be careful and download IPSWs only for your devices. In this article we have iPad 5 Gen Wi-Fi, therefore IPSW from iPad 5 Gen Cellular or iPad Pro 2, or any other simply won’t work. iTunes won’t let you to install wrong IPSW (it has complicated verification mechanisms, which check whether the software you are trying to install is 100% compatible with your devices every time you try to reflash it), so you won’t brick your device, but don’t waste your time even trying to install IPSW from other device. It simply won’t work.

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Do you see that little red cross marks and green check mark? These are validation marks. They point you to the right iOS version Apple supports right now. You can install only the most recent version. If the IPSW you’ve downloaded is marked with the red cross, you won’t be able to install it, since Apple does not sign it anymore (that is why you can’t downgrade to the older versions of iOS, e.g. iOS 6). Therefore, download only IPSWs with green checkmarks.

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After you’ve downloaded the IPSW file, connect your iPhone/iPad/Apple TV to your computer and start flashing. That’s it!

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