How to download iOS 13 on your iPhone or iPod Touch

Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 13, hit the scene in September 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 them.

iOS 13 has, of course, been superseded by iOS 14, but if you’re updating an older iOS 12 device, you’re still going to need to update it. 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 went 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:

Unfortunately, this means that if you’re running an iPhone 6 or earlier, you’re stuck on iOS 12.

Technically, the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max are all capable of running iOS 13. However, since they come with iOS 14 out of the box, you will not be able to downgrade them to iOS 13. We provide more details on why this is the case in the final section of this article.

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 or later

MacOS Catalina finally nixed the classic iTunes and swapped it with a separate app for Books, Podcasts, and Music. That said, you could still definitely back up any of your iOS products with the Catalina and even on the Big Sur operating system. There are a few steps to follow:

  • 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

For the Mac or Windows PC owners who still have older model computers, iTunes is likely still on your device. You can continue to use the app to back up your iPhone or iPod Touch. Check out the following steps:

  • 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

There is a straightforward way to download and install iOS 13 on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You’ll need to download the program over the air, though.

  • On your iPhone or iPod Touch, head to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • This will push your device to check for available updates, and you’ll see a message that iOS 13 is available. Tap Download and Install.
  • The update will take a while to install, and you can’t use your device while it’s updating.

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

If you don’t want to download anything straight to your phone or iPod, you can still update your device with iOS 13. You’ll just have to do it through iTunes on your Mac or PC.

  • Make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of iTunes.
  • Connect 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

iOS 14

Apple releases its major updates every September. Per custom, the company shared iOS 14 in September. Previously, a person could have downgraded an update if they didn’t like the new operating system. For example, they could have gone from iOS 12 to iOS 11. That said, if you have already installed iOS 14 on your device and don’t like the features, you cannot downgrade to iOS 13. Apple introduced a change in iOS 13 that limited iPhones to only install versions of iOS signed by Apple. Ultimately, that means that if you were able to find and download some form of iOS 13 online, the program probably wouldn’t also have Apple’s signature. Unfortunately, you can’t reverse the newer systems.

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