How to Fix Update Issues on iPhone or iPad

Introduction

You might be unable to update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch wirelessly - or over the air - for a number of reasons. This guide will go over common update issues you may experience and how to overcome them.

Make sure to re-try updating after performing each one of these steps. Any one of these steps may individually resolve your issue altogether. If a particular step has resolved your issue, feel free to skip to the end of this guide.

iPhone displaying a successful update screen.

? What kind of issue are you having?

  1. Not enough available storage space on your device
  2. Downloading the update takes a long time
  3. Unable to reach the update server
  4. The update doesn't complete

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You might be unable to update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch wirelessly - or over the air - for a number of reasons. This guide will go over common update issues you may experience and how to overcome them.

Make sure to re-try updating after performing each one of these steps. Any one of these steps may individually resolve your issue altogether. If a particular step has resolved your issue, feel free to skip to the end of this guide.

iPhone displaying a successful update screen.

If there isn't enough space to download and install an update, iOS will try to make space. It will remove only app data that it can download again and doesn't remove or relocate any of your data.

  1. Tap Allow App Deletion.
    iPhone insufficient space prompt highlighting the allow app deletion option.
As you use your device, files and apps will eventually accumulate, leaving you with less free space for new content. Once you know how much available storage you have, you can use various methods to free up space on your device.
  1. Go to Settings.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Select General.
    iOS settings menu with general highlighted
  3. Tap on your device's Storage.
  4. The amount of storage used will be shown near the top. Below that you may see a list of recommendations for optimizing your device's storage, followed by a list of installed apps and the amount of storage each one uses.
    iOS device showing storage
  5. Tap on the app that you wish to remove.
  6. Tap the Delete App button on the next screen. Accept any prompts.
  7. Go back to the previous screen and repeat for as many apps you wish to remove.

To remove an app:

  1. From your main screen, locate the app you wish to remove.
  2. Lightly touch and hold the app until it jiggles or vibrates.
  3. Tap X in the upper-left corner of the app.
  4. Tap Delete.
    iOS showing app being removed.
  1. Install the latest version of iTunes on your computer from: https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/
  2. Using the cable that came with your iOS device, connect your device to your computer.
    iPhone plugged into laptop via cable.
  3. Open iTunes and select your device.
    iTunes.
  4. Choose Summary then Check for Update.
    iTunes software with Check for Updates selected within Summary settings.
  5. Choose Download and Update.
    Download and Update button selected on an available update.
  6. If prompted, enter your passcode.

Powering off an iPhone.

  1. Hold down the lock / power button.
  2. Slide to power off when prompted.
  3. Wait until the phone is off.
  4. Hold down the lock / power button until you see the Apple logo.

To check and see if updates are available for your iOS device:

  1. Open Settings on your phone or tablet.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Select General.
    iOS settings page with general highlighted.
  3. Select Software Update.
    iOS general settings with software update highlighted.
  4. Your iOS device will perform a search for available iOS updates.
    • If no update is available, it will display your current version of iOS and inform you that your software is up to date.
      iOS up to date software page.
    • If an update is available, it will be displayed.
      iOS update display.
      • Select Download and Install to begin the update process.
      • If prompted, enter your passcode to proceed.
An Internet connection is obviously necessary in order to update iOS. The time it takes to download the update will vary depending on the size of the update and your connection speeds. While downloading the iOS update, you can use your device normally and iOS will notify you when the download is finished and ready to install.
iOS software update screen processing an update.

You can skip this step if your iPhone or iPad is already connected.

  • The simplest way to check to see if your iPhone or iPad is connected to Wi-Fi is to look across the top of your screen. The icon that is identified in the image below indicates that you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.
    iPhone highlighting the Wi-Fi logo.

Depending on what iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) and which generation you have, the menu theme and options might look slightly different on your screen. However, the steps should be the same across all iOS devices and generations.

  1. Open Settings.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Select Wi-Fi.
    iOS Wi-Fi

    Next to the icon you will see one of following statuses:

    • Off - Wi-Fi feature is disabled
    • Not Connected - Wi-Fi connection is not established
    • [Network Name] - Wi-Fi connection is established
  3. Make sure that the Wi-Fi feature is enabled by flipping the toggle switch to the On position.
    Wi-Fi toggle switch highlighted in iOS settings.
  4. Your iOS device will automatically connect to the closest network you have connected to it in the past. The checkmark indicates you are connected.
    Checkmark highlighted next to Wi-Fi network name in iOS settings.
To Connect to a New Network

If you're connecting to a Wi-Fi network for the first time:

  1. Select the Network Name from the list.
    Wi-Fi networks highlighted in iOS settings.
  2. Enter the Password if required then select Join.
    Wi-Fi Password field and Join button highlighted in iOS settings.
To Connect to a Hidden Network

If the Wi-Fi network you wish to connect to is hidden, it won't appear in the list of available networks. However, if you know the network's exact name and password, it can be added manually.

  1. Select Other...
    Other highlighted in Wi-Fi network list of iOS settings.
  2. Enter the Network Name, choose the Security type, enter the Password then select Join.
    Network Name, Security type, Password fields and Join button highlighted in Wi-Fi connection of iOS settings.

Powering off an iPhone.

  1. Hold down the lock / power button.
  2. Slide to power off when prompted.
  3. Wait until the phone is off.
  4. Hold down the lock / power button until you see the Apple logo.

To check and see if updates are available for your iOS device:

  1. Open Settings on your phone or tablet.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Select General.
    iOS settings page with general highlighted.
  3. Select Software Update.
    iOS general settings with software update highlighted.
  4. Your iOS device will perform a search for available iOS updates.
    • If no update is available, it will display your current version of iOS and inform you that your software is up to date.
      iOS up to date software page.
    • If an update is available, it will be displayed.
      iOS update display.
      • Select Download and Install to begin the update process.
      • If prompted, enter your passcode to proceed.
  1. Install the latest version of iTunes on your computer from: https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/
  2. Using the cable that came with your iOS device, connect your device to your computer.
    iPhone plugged into laptop via cable.
  3. Open iTunes and select your device.
    iTunes.
  4. Choose Summary then Check for Update.
    iTunes software with Check for Updates selected within Summary settings.
  5. Choose Download and Update.
    Download and Update button selected on an available update.
  6. If prompted, enter your passcode.

If your device is running into issues reaching the update server, you may see one of these messages:
iOS unable to verify or check for updates. Screenshot.

  1. If you see either one of these messages, tap Retry or Try Again to attempt to apply the update again.
  1. Go to Settings.
    iOS settings.

  2. Select General.
    iOS settings menu highlighting the general option.

  3. Tap on your [Device] Storage.
  4. Look for iOS update in the list of apps, and tap it. For example, iOS 9.1.
    iOS Storage menu highlighting an iOS update entry.

  5. Tap Delete Update.
    iOS Software update menu highlighting the delete update option.

  6. Tap Delete Update once more to confirm.
    iOS delete update confirmation prompt.

  7. The update will now begin to uninstall.

Powering off an iPhone.

  1. Hold down the lock / power button.
  2. Slide to power off when prompted.
  3. Wait until the phone is off.
  4. Hold down the lock / power button until you see the Apple logo.

You can skip this step if your iPhone or iPad is already connected.

  • The simplest way to check to see if your iPhone or iPad is connected to Wi-Fi is to look across the top of your screen. The icon that is identified in the image below indicates that you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.
    iPhone highlighting the Wi-Fi logo.

Depending on what iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) and which generation you have, the menu theme and options might look slightly different on your screen. However, the steps should be the same across all iOS devices and generations.

  1. Open Settings.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Select Wi-Fi.
    iOS Wi-Fi

    Next to the icon you will see one of following statuses:

    • Off - Wi-Fi feature is disabled
    • Not Connected - Wi-Fi connection is not established
    • [Network Name] - Wi-Fi connection is established
  3. Make sure that the Wi-Fi feature is enabled by flipping the toggle switch to the On position.
    Wi-Fi toggle switch highlighted in iOS settings.
  4. Your iOS device will automatically connect to the closest network you have connected to it in the past. The checkmark indicates you are connected.
    Checkmark highlighted next to Wi-Fi network name in iOS settings.
To Connect to a New Network

If you're connecting to a Wi-Fi network for the first time:

  1. Select the Network Name from the list.
    Wi-Fi networks highlighted in iOS settings.
  2. Enter the Password if required then select Join.
    Wi-Fi Password field and Join button highlighted in iOS settings.
To Connect to a Hidden Network

If the Wi-Fi network you wish to connect to is hidden, it won't appear in the list of available networks. However, if you know the network's exact name and password, it can be added manually.

  1. Select Other...
    Other highlighted in Wi-Fi network list of iOS settings.
  2. Enter the Network Name, choose the Security type, enter the Password then select Join.
    Network Name, Security type, Password fields and Join button highlighted in Wi-Fi connection of iOS settings.
  1. Install the latest version of iTunes on your computer from: https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/
  2. Using the cable that came with your iOS device, connect your device to your computer.
    iPhone plugged into laptop via cable.
  3. Open iTunes and select your device.
    iTunes.
  4. Choose Summary then Check for Update.
    iTunes software with Check for Updates selected within Summary settings.
  5. Choose Download and Update.
    Download and Update button selected on an available update.
  6. If prompted, enter your passcode.

When you're installing an update, the progress bar might appear to move very slowly. The time an update takes depends on the size of the update and the number of files on your device. If the bar is simply moving slowly, allow your device time to complete the update. Nothing is wrong.

There are steps that can be taken if your device gets stuck or frozen on the update screen.

While you're updating, always keep your device connected to a power source. If your device runs out of power, connect it to a power source and turn the device back on to allow the update to restore or complete.

iOS processing an update at an apple logo screen.

Since the iPhone uses a non-removable battery, this process can be used to simulate a "battery pull" when the device is unresponsive, frozen or doesn't power on. Performing a soft reset will not remove any data or information from your device.

  • On an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.
  • On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
  • On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo.
    Various iPhone models. Illustration.
  1. Install the latest version of iTunes on your computer from: https://www.apple.com/itunes/download/
  2. Using the cable that came with your iOS device, connect your device to your computer.
    iPhone plugged into laptop via cable.
  3. Open iTunes and select your device.
    iTunes.
  4. Choose Summary then Check for Update.
    iTunes software with Check for Updates selected within Summary settings.
  5. Choose Download and Update.
    Download and Update button selected on an available update.
  6. If prompted, enter your passcode.
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