You installed the iOS 12 public beta on the iPhone you use every day, and the experience has been…less than smooth. Hey, that’s what beta tests are for, right? You gave it a shot and now you’re ready to go back to the fewer-features-but-mostly-stable iOS 11.4.
No problem! All you need to do is boot into recovery mode and re-install that backup you made before installing the iOS 12 beta. You did make a full backup, right? Apple wasn’t kidding around when it said that making a full backup with iTunes and then archiving it is the first thing you should do! Here are the steps you need to take to hop off the iOS 12 testing train.
Before you jump ship, take a few minutes to report the bugs you’ve experienced. Apple can’t fix what it doesn’t know about, and while it’s tempting to assume it must already know about your problems, that may not always be so. Besides, it’s very important for Apple to know how widespread a particular problem is so it can prioritize fixes.
The iOS beta releases include an app named Feedback. You’ll want to launch that, log in with your Apple ID, and file bug reports for the issues you encountered. Be specific and methodical. Try to think, “If I were a programmer reading this bug report, what would I need to know to trigger this bug and pinpoint what is causing it?”
And of course you can—and should—use the Feedback tool to report bugs and problems, even if you’re not going to uninstall the iOS 12 beta.
Step one: Recovery mode
Okay, you’ve got your iPhone or iPad and your Mac or PC with iTunes and archived backup. The first step to getting back to iOS 11.4 is to put your device into recovery mode.
iPhone X, iPhone 8, or 8 Plus: Quickly press and release the volume up button, then press and release the volume down button, then press and hold the side button. At first you’ll see a “slide to power off” screen, but just keep holding that side button until you see a “connect to iTunes” screen.
iPhone 7 or 7 Plus: Press and hold the side button and the volume down button at the same time. You’ll eventually see an Apple logo, but keep holding the buttons. When you see the “connect to iTunes” screen, you can release the buttons.
iPhone 6s or earlier, all iPads: Press and hold the sleep/wake button and the home button at the same time. You’ll eventually see an Apple logo, but keep holding the buttons. When you see the “connect to iTunes” screen, you can release the buttons.
Step two: Restoring your backup
Now that your device is in recovery mode, you’ll want to grab your Lightning cable and plug your device into the computer that has iTunes and your original iOS 11.4 backup—the one you made before installing the iOS 12 beta.
iTunes should open up (if it’s not already open) and tell you that it has discovered an iPhone or iPad in recovery mode. Click the “Restore” option and wait for the process to finish. It can take a while.
Once the restore process is finished, your phone will reboot into setup mode, just as if it was a new iPhone. Now you can restore your backup (or start fresh, if you prefer).
If you didn’t back up your iPhone to iTunes before installing the iOS 12 beta, this process will still restore your phone to iOS 11.4—the restore process downloads and installs the latest non-beta version. But you’ll have to set up your phone as though it were new, re-downloading all your apps and data (music, photos, application data, and so on). Anything not stored in the cloud will be lost.
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I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.