How to copy a discontinued iOS app to another iOS device

The circumstances have to be just right for any of this to work.

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Apps come and apps go, and sometimes we rely on an app that’s been pulled from the App Store. When the inevitable time comes to switch to a new iPhone or iPad, discontinued apps typically don’t flow with your backup and restore.

That’s the scenario with Macworld reader Vibhu. With a new iPhone, Vibhu tried all the methods they could find of transferring a discontinued app they rely on. They wondered if they’d missed something?

Vibhu didn’t say exactly which methods they’d tried, but the typical ones are:

  • It may show up in Purchases. In iOS, launch the App Store, tap your avatar account icon in the upper-right corner, and tap Purchased. You can use the Search field to see if it appears. Apps that Apple withdrew for violations of the App Store guidelines or where a developer is no longer registered don’t appear here, however.
  • If you’ve synced with iTunes, you may have a copy of the app in your iTunes Library. These files, with an .ipa extension, remain in place even after Apple discontinued app-syncing in iTunes 12.7 for macOS. This column from earlier in the year tells you how to find these old apps and how to sync them to your iOS device—but it might not work.
  • If you never synced, you could go through the elaborate process of finding a Mac with a copy of iTunes prior to 12.7 (or finding an earlier version online you could install), sync your iOS device to it, find the .ipa file, and then use the instructions above.

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