How to install old versions of iOS apps on older iPads, iPhones

If you are using an older iPad or iPhone running a legacy version of iOS, it may still be possible to download compatible builds of important applications you want to use, but it’s a little complex and you must have installed that older version of the app in the past.

Why does this matter?

There are millions of iOS devices in the wild, and not all of them are upgraded every 3-5 years. There are plenty of people who are using older models of these devices (on older operating systems) to get things done.

Unfortunately, Apple provides only limited support for this – and we don’t yet have the collective will or campaigning skill it will take in order to persuade the company to provide better support for older devices.

That’s not entirely Apple’s fault, either – over time, even electronic components used in devices can themselves become security vulnerabilities, and when people make as much use of these devices as most of us do, not big company wants to provide an insecure experience. (Well, some might, but not Apple).

All the same, if you want to run an older version of an IOS app that is compatible with older versions of the OS, and you don’t want to enter the scary and insecure world of jailbreaking – and you also previously owned a compatible version of that app, here is what to do:

Visit the App Store

The App Store keeps a record of all your previous app purchases and in many cases will let you download them again, if they are compatible with the device you are using.

That’s why if you’ve previously downloaded a version of (say) Pages that is compatible with your old iOS 9 iPad, you still can. Just do this:

  • Open the App Store
  • Tap the Account icon
  • Tap Purchased and then tap My Purchases.
  • You’ll be rewarded with a list of all the apps you’ve ever purchased – depending on your habits, this may be quite a lengthy list.
  • Shorten the list a little by tapping the Not on this iPhone/iPad item at the top.
  • You’ll now see a list that includes all the apps you’ve purchased through your current Apple ID.
  • Go through the list until you find the app whose old version you’re looking for and tap the blue cloud icon beside its name.
  • It should now install.

Do hope this helps.

More tips? Please take a look at these.

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Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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