How to download iOS 13 on your iPhone or iPod Touch

The public beta of Apple’s mobile software, iOS 13, has finally been released. It’s packed with Apple’s latest tweaks and enhancements, but also introduces a host of new features, including the long-awaited Dark Mode.

There’s a lot to look forward to, but you need to update your device to iOS 13 before you’re able to play with all the latest toys. Here’s how you can update your iPhone or iPod Touch to iOS 13.

Please note: For the first time in Apple’s history, the iPad is going its own way and will no longer be tied to iOS. As such, iPads will not be receiving iOS 13. Instead, the iPad will get its own operating system called iPadOS, and we’ve written a separate guide on how to download it.

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 will not be getting iOS 13, so don’t assume you’ll be getting iOS 13 just because your device received iOS 12. The following iPod Touch and iPhones devices support iOS 13:

  • iPod Touch (7th generation)
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS and XS Max

Registering for the iOS 13 public beta

At the moment, it’s only the iOS 13 public beta that’s available, and you’ll need to enroll in the iOS beta program to get access. To register for the iOS 13 public beta, head to Apple’s Beta Software Program website and hit the Sign Up button to enroll in the program.

Feel free to spend a little time here too, as you can find out more about iOS 13 and leaf through the FAQs to get a better idea of what to expect.

Back up your iPhone or iPod Touch

Backing up your device is advised before installing any update, and it’s doubly important when getting involved in software betas. Backing up your data ensures that it will be easy to restore your device and uninstall the iOS beta if something does go wrong.

You can update your iPhone or iPod Touch either 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, then tap iCloud. If you’re on iOS 10.2 or earlier, then 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 on the list.

Backing up on a Mac running MacOS Catalina

MacOS 10.15 Catalina has done away with Apple’s iconic iTunes, replacing it with separate apps for Books, Podcasts, and Music. However, you can still back up your iOS device on the new MacOS. Here’s how to do it:

  • Connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to your Mac and make sure it is up-to-date.
  • Follow any onscreen 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

If you’re blessed with an older Mac or Windows PC, then you can still use iTunes to back up your iPhone or iPod Touch. Here’s how to do so:

  • Make sure your iTunes is up-to-date and connect your device.
  • Follow any onscreen 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

The easiest way to download and install iOS 13 on your iPhone or iPod Touch is to download over the air.

  • Head to Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Your device will check for updates, and a notification about iOS 13 should appear. Tap Download and Install.
  • Updating your device can take a little while, and you won’t be able to use your device while the update is running. If it’s easier for you, tap the Install Tonight or Remind Me Later to postpone the update until later.

Downloading and installing iOS 13 from your PC or Mac

Riley Young/Digital Trends

If it’s easier for you to download and install iOS 13 by connecting to a PC or a Mac, then you can do that instead. There are a couple of ways to do this, and there are different methods depending on which version of MacOS you’re using, or whether you’re using a PC. Here’s the full spectrum of your options.

Updating your iPhone or iPod Touch to iOS 13 on a Mac running MacOS Catalina

If you’re using the latest version of MacOS you might have noticed iTunes has disappeared. This means previous methods that relied on iTunes no longer work. But you can still connect your device to your Mac for updating. Here’s how to do it:

  • Connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to your Mac.
  • Once it’s connected, open your Finder app and select your iPhone from the sidebar.
  • Click the Check for Update button to check for updates.
  • When the update is found, follow the steps on your Mac and iPhone or iPod Touch to complete the update.

Updating your iPhone or iPod Touch to iOS 13 on a Mac or PC with iTunes

If you’re using an older Mac or a Windows PC, then you can use iTunes to update your iPhone or iPod Touch.

  • Make sure iTunes is up-to-date.
  • Connect your device to your Mac or PC.
  • Once connected, open iTunes.
  • Select your iPhone or iPod Touch in iTunes.
  • Click Summary > Check for Update.
  • Select Download and Update, and if required, follow the steps in iTunes and on your device to complete the update.

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