Apple puts out a new version of the iPad’s operating system each year. These iOS updates include new features, bug fixes, and improved security. The upgrade process is usually straightforward, but glitches do crop up.
If your iPad won’t update, it may be because your device has an insufficient charge or lacks the necessary free space—problems you can easily remedy.
However, it could also be because your iPad is old and can’t be updated to the latest version of the operating system. The only way to «fix» an obsolete and outdated iPad is to buy a new one.
Which iPad Should You Buy?
Information in this article applies to iPads running iOS versions 13, 12, 11, or iOS 10, except as noted.
Updating your iPad to the latest OS can be done from the Settings app. Artem Varnitsin/EyeEm/Getty
- You can update your iPad to iPadOS 15 manually or set automatic updates in the Settings app.
- If your iPad isn’t updating properly, you can also update it from your Mac or PC.
- Updating your iPad to iPadOS 15 can strengthen security and give you access to the latest features.
It’s a good idea to keep your iPad up to date with the latest version of iPadOS, since it protects you from security vulnerabilities and also delivers the latest bug fixes and features.
You can set your iPad to install updates automatically, or perform the updates manually on your own schedule. You can even update your iPad from your PC or Mac computer. Here’s how to do it all.
Apple unveiled a new version of iPadOS – the separate operating system that the iPad has had since 2019 – at WWDC in June 2021 and it will be available to download on Monday 20 September 2021.
The new version of the iPad operating system, known as iPadOS 15, will include updated Widgets, the App Library, improved multitasking features, Quick Note, Live Text and more. Read about the upgrades in our guide to.
Sound appealing? The update will be available to install on iPads as of Monday 20 September. We expect the update to be available from around 6pm in the UK, 10am in California, 1pm in New York, etc. We recommend you wait a little longer though as there will probably be a rush as everyone else downloads all the new software from Apple’s servers causing them to slow right down.
In this article we explain everything you need to know about updating your iPad to a new version of iPadOS. That includes the simple process of grabbing a new public version, and the slightly more difficult one of installing the beta.
We cover system requirements and what to do if you encounter problems (such as not having enough space or not being able to connect to Wi-Fi).
We also discuss whether it’s a good idea to install an iPadOS beta and what the difference between public and developer betas are.
Keeping the iOS (operating system) software up to date on your iPad is nearly always a good idea. Each major update to iOS (those that are. 0 updates) brings a wealth of impressive new features to the iPad. The ‘point updates’ (5. 1 or 6. 2 for example) tend to offer important bug fixes, security patches, and general performance enhancements. A quick way to check which version of iOS your iPad is running is to go to Settings > General > About and look at the ‘Version’ field. If it shows anything lower than 5. 0 then you will need to update via iTunes on a computer one time before being able to do over the air updates in future. Here’s how you go about this:— Connect your iPad to a PC (Windows or Mac) with iTunes installed, via USB and your sync/charge cable. If you are prompted immediately to update your iOS software you should choose to Cancel and not do that right away.
— Make sure you have backed up or synced all your important data, photos, music, contacts etc. You can do this via iTunes sync or via a number of 3rd party apps and cloud services. See these two Apple support article for some guidance on syncing with computers and what is covered by iTunes backup:— Once you are sure you have safely backed up / synced your data, you can move on and get your iPad’s iOS software update done. If you see another popup prompting you to update to the latest software version, you can go ahead and choose ‘Download and Install to get the update done. — If you don’t see that popup then you should click on the iPad section of iTunes over towards the top right of the iTunes screen and make sure you are on the Summary page in the iPad section. There you should see the latest update shown as available to download and install.
That’s it. And now that you’ve got your iPad updated to the latest iOS version, you can do all your subsequent updates via the iPad itself and the Settings app.
Patrick JordanFounder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.
This wikiHow teaches you how to update the system software on your iPad using Software Update on the iPad or iTunes on your desktop.
- Back up your iPad. In most cases, updating the iOS will not cause a loss of data, but things can occasionally go wrong.
- Connect your iPad to a power source. Use the charging cable that came with your iPad to connect to a power outlet or desktop computer.
- Open your iPad’s Settings.
- Scroll down and tap General.
- Tap Software Update. It’s near the top of the page.
- Tap Download and Install.If this link does not appear, your software is up to date and no update is currently available.
- If this link does not appear, your software is up to date and no update is currently available.
- Enter your iPad’s passcode.
- Review Apple’s Terms and Conditions.
- Tap Agree. The download and installation process will begin.The time to update will vary depending on the extent of the update and the speed of your Wi-Fi network.
- The time to update will vary depending on the extent of the update and the speed of your Wi-Fi network.
- Download the latest version of iTunes. In order to download update software for your iPad, iTunes must be running the latest version available.
- Back up your iPad. In most cases, updating the iOS will not cause a loss of data, but things can occasionally go wrong.
- Connect your iPad to your computer. Use the cable that came with your iPad, plugging the USB end into the computer and the Lightning or 30-pin connector into your iPad’s charging port.If iTunes doesn’t launch automatically, open the iTunes app on your computer.
- If iTunes doesn’t launch automatically, open the iTunes app on your computer.
- Click your iPad’s icon. It’s in the upper-left part of the window, below the toolbar.
- Click Summary in the left pane.
- Scroll down and click Check for Update. If there is an update available, iTunes will ask you if you want to download and install it.
- iTunes must be connected to the Internet during the entire process.
Add New Question
- Can you use a PC to update an iPad via iTunes?
Yes you can. All you need to do is connect your device to with a USB cable to the PC and open up iTunes. When you’ve connected it, iTunes should instantly detect the device and an iOS software update option should appear.
- I have an iPad with iOS 5.1.1. When I go to «General — Software Update,» it says software is up to date and doesn’t give me an option to upgrade to a higher version. How do I upgrade my iPad?
Your iPad is not compatible with newer versions of iOS because its hardware is too primitive.
- Does this method also work with an iPhone?
Yes, as long as your device can support the iOS you’re trying to download.
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Go to Settings from your Home screen> Tap on General> Tap on Software Update> Checking for update will appear. Again, wait if Software Update to iOS 13 is available. Why is iOS 13 not showing up?If your iPhone won’t update to iOS 13, it might be because your device isn’t compatible. Not all iPhone models can update to the latest OS. If your device is on the compatibility list, then you should also make sure you have enough free storage space to run the update. If you still can’t install the latest version of iOS or iPadOS, try downloading the update again:
- Find the update in the list of apps.
- Tap the update, then tap Delete Update.
How do I manually get iOS 13?Downloading and installing iOS 13 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.
- Click Download and Update.
How do I force my iOS to update?Update iOS on iPhone
What devices can run iOS 13?iOS 13 is compatible with these devices.
- iPhone 11 Pro.
- iPhone 11 Pro Max.
- iPhone XS.
- iPhone XS Max.
- iPhone XR.
- iPhone X.
Why is iOS 14 not showing up on my phone?Why is iOS 14 Update not Showing Up on My iPhoneThe major reason is that iOS 14 has not officially launched. What Apple has shown in their news is that they have only rolled out the beta version of the update. And since it is not a formal and official update, you cannot see it in the Settings app on your device. Why doesn’t my phone have the new update?If your Android device won’t update, it might have to do with your Wi-Fi connection, battery, storage space, or the age of your device. Android mobile devices usually update automatically, but updates can be delayed or prevented for various reasons. Why is the software update taking so long on my new iPhone?So if your iPhone is taking so long to update, here are some possible reasons are listed below: Unstable even unavailable internet connection. USB cable connection is unstable or interrupted. Downloading other files while downloading the iOS update files. What happens if you don’t update your iPhone software?How do I manually update my iPhone software?Update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
- Plug your device into power and connect to the Internet with Wi-Fi.
- If asked, enter your passcode.
How do I force iOS 14 to update?Install iOS 14 or iPadOS 14
Can iPhone 6 be updated to iOS 13?
Kick-start a stubborn app into downloading
Justin Sullivan / Staff Editorial / Getty Images
How to Fix an iPad That Won’t Update
- Restart the iPad. The first step in troubleshooting most problems is to restart the device. Restarting the device can fix many technical problems, including software updates that fail or time out.
- Restart the app that won’t update. Sometimes, a download times out. You can tell the iPad to start downloading an app again by opening the app again. When you tap an app that’s in the waiting-to-download stage, the iPad tries to download it.
- Delete the app that won’t update, and then download it again. If an app won’t update, delete it and then download it again. Don’t attempt this fix if the problem app saves the information you want to keep, such as a note-taking app or a drawing app. Many of these apps save your data to iCloud, which means that it’s safe to delete and re-download these apps. However, if you have any doubts, don’t delete the app.You may need to sign in to the app when the download is complete.
- Download a different app. If the iPad times out in the middle of the authentication process, it can’t authenticate with the App Store again, which in turn freezes all downloads to your iPad. The easiest way to solve this problem is to download a new app and force the iPad to authenticate again. Choose a free app and install it on the iPad. When the installation is complete, locate the app or update that was stuck and see if it downloads again.
- Restart the Wi-Fi router. If your router isn’t connecting properly to the internet, your iPad can’t download updates. Most routers have a built-in firewall and manage multiple devices, which can cause the router to get mixed up. After turning off the router, be sure to leave it off for a full minute before turning it back on. When all the router lights come back on, connect your iPad to the Wi-Fi network, then tap the app to see if the download process starts.
- Reset all settings. Resetting iPad settings is different from resetting the iPad to factory defaults. The process doesn’t completely wipe your iPad. It deletes network settings, the keyboard dictionary, the Home screen layout, location settings, privacy settings, and Apple Pay cards. A settings reset should not affect your apps, documents, music, movies, passwords, or data.
- How do I update an iPad?To update an iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update. Choose the available software update option you want. Tap Install Now. If you see Download and Install Now, tap it to download the update, enter your passcode, and tap Install Now.
- How do I update apps on an iPad?To manually update iPad apps, open the App Store and tap your profile icon. Scroll down to see pending updates. Tap Update All to update all apps or tap Update next to the app you want to update.
- How do I update the browser on my iPad?To update to the latest version of Safari on your iPad, open Settings and tap General > Software Update. If there’s an update available, tap it to install it. The latest Safari version is always included with the newest iOS or iPadOS.
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- How to install the iPadOS 15 beta
- How to download iPadOS via a Mac (or PC)
- Why won’t my iPad update?
- How to update your iPad automatically
- How to update your iPad manually
- How to get an old version of iOS/iPadOS
- How to update iPadOS
- How to update your iPad from your computer
- Why Did Apple Stop Supporting My iPad?
- Power Your iPad to Upgrade
- Should I install the iPadOS beta?
- How to upgrade iPadOS from a beta version
- How to download iPadOS without Wi-Fi
- Yikes! My iPad Is Obsolete
- Preparation and precautions
- Developer vs public betas
- About This Article
- Lack of Free Space Prevents Upgrade
How to install the iPadOS 15 beta
- Click Sign Up on the
and register using your Apple ID details.
- Log in to the Beta Software Program.
- Click Enrol your iPadOS device. (If you signed up for a beta last year you may need to uninstall that profile and re-enrol.)
- Go to
on your iPad.
- Download and install the configuration profile.
- The beta version will now be available in the Settings app, under General, Software Update.
- In Safari on your iPad, go to
and log in.
- Go to the Downloads section, scroll down to iPadOS 15 beta and tap Install Profile, then Accept.
- Tap Install to install the beta profile.
- Read the developer consent form and give your consent.
- Restart your iPad.
- Wait for your iPad to download the update, then tap Install.
Your iPad will now be running the iPadOS 15 beta.
How to download iPadOS via a Mac (or PC)
Alternatively, if your Mac happens to be connected to the internet via Ethernet, or another way, you could download iPadOS using the Finder.
- Open the Finder on your iMac and plug in your iPad.
- Click on the icon that represents your iPad.
- Click on Check for Updates.
- Run through the options to download and install iPadOS.
Note that in older versions of macOS, or Windows, iTunes manages this process instead.
Why won’t my iPad update?
You may be wondering why your iPad isn’t showing the update as available. There are a few reasons why this might be the case.
- You might just be too eager – is the update you want out yet? Even then it sometimes takes a few hours to roll out to some devices.
- Your iPad might be too old to run the new version of iPadOS. The oldest qualifying device for iPadOS 15, for example, is the 2014 iPad Air 2.
- You might not be connected to Wi-Fi – as we said above, you need Wi-Fi.
- You might not be plugged in – this is required, just in case you run out of battery halfway through.
If those points don’t apply to you, try installing via the Finder or iTunes as we detailed above.
How to update your iPad automatically
The easiest way to keep your iPad updated is to enable automatic updates.
Open the Settings app on your iPad.
About halfway down the page, tap General.
At the top of the General page, select Software Update.
Tap Automatic Updates.
Go to «Automatic Updates. » William Antonelli/Insider
To let your iPad do everything automatically, be sure both the Download iPadOS Updates and Install iPadOS Updates buttons are turned on by swiping them to the right, turning them green. When both switches are turned on, your iPad will download update files to the device and then install them automatically overnight, when your iPad is charging and locked.
Tap both switches to keep your iPad automatically up to date. William Antonelli/Insider
How to update your iPad manually
You can also update your iPad manually in Settings.
Tap General, and then select Software Update.
You can find the software update tool in the Settings app. Dave Johnson/Business Insider
If there’s an update available, tap Download and Install.
If your iPad is low on storage space and there isn’t enough room to install the update, your iPad will ask permission to temporarily uninstall apps (the apps will be automatically restored later). Tap Continue.
After the download is complete, tap Install.
How to get an old version of iOS/iPadOS
Here’s what to do if you change your mind later and want to try to downgrade to an older version of iPadOS or even iOS 12, which came before iPadOS 13. (Note, however, that downgrading is really tricky, so we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to revert
- On your Mac open the Finder.
- Select the Software Updates folder for your iPad if it’s there.
- Alternatively, launch your web browser and go to
and find the right one for your device.
And if your iPad doesn’t run the version of iPadOS you’re after, you might want to check our roundup of the
so you can save money while bagging yourself a new iPad.
How to update iPadOS
When iPadOS arrives you will probably get an alert on your iPad telling you that the new version is ready to download. If not, you might have to go into Settings to get your iPad to actively seek it out.
- Plug your iPhone into a power supply – iPadOS 15 won’t install if you don’t plug into the mains.
- You’ll also need to be connected to Wi-Fi, not via 3G or 4G (although it is now possible to install via a data connection). We advise that you check it’s a safe network – we don’t recommend you do this over hotel Wi-Fi, for instance. We have some tips on how to download iPadOS
- Assuming there is a new version available, tap Download and Install.
- Your device will download the update in the background. You’ll see an indication of how much time it is likely to take – in our experience this is very far from the mark! Double it/triple it even! You can at least carry on with other things while the download happens. Once the download has finished you will receive a notification on your iPad.
- Tap Install Now. (Again, expect this step to take a while – especially if it’s on the night the software arrives!)
- Alternatively, you can select Later. iPadOS will offer to update during the night – you just need to make sure the device is plugged in.
How to update your iPad from your computer
Wirelessly updating your iPad is generally the most convenient way to keep it up to date, but if you’re having issues, you can connect your iPad to a computer and install updates from there instead.
Plug your iPad into your PC or Mac computer.
If you’re on a PC, open iTunes. If you’re on a Mac, open Finder and click your iPad’s name in the sidebar.
If you see a message on the computer asking if you want to allow the computer to access your iPad, click Continue. Likewise, tap Trust on your iPad.
In your iTunes Library on a PC, click the iPad icon on the left side of the toolbar, then select Summary. In Finder on a Mac, click General.
Once iTunes recognizes your iPad, a small icon of the device will appear in the top-left. Dave Johnson
On both Mac and PC, click Check for Update.
iTunes will check Apple’s servers for an iPad update. Dave Johnson
If there’s an update available, click Download and Update. Leave your iPad connected for as long as it takes to update.
Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he’s also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.
Why Did Apple Stop Supporting My iPad?
The iPad dropped support for the original iPad because it only had 256 MB of RAM. This is the memory used to run the operating system and apps and shouldn’t be confused with the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB used to store apps on the iPad. The memory restrictions with the original iPad made many of the advanced features of the iPad, such as the virtual touchpad and multitasking, impossible.
Apple also moved the iPad from 32-bit architecture to 64-bit architecture with the iPad Air. This might seem like techno-language to most, but this makes the iPad much more efficient. This move led to the iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, and iPad Mini no longer being compatible with the newest updates.
There isn’t anything to be done about this hardware limitation other than buy a new iPad. However, your iPad should still work and support many apps; you just can’t get new features or newer apps. These iPads also make great tablets for the kids.
Security on all computing devices is a game of one-upmanship. As soon as the system is secure, folks figure out a way to get back in. The best way to keep your system secure is to keep the operating system updated. But since that’s not always possible (because the manufacturer stops supporting your model), it’s important to understand that some security vulnerabilities might then still be exploitable.
Get Cash for Your Devices with These Top Trade-in Programs
Power Your iPad to Upgrade
If your iPad is below 50 percent battery life, you can’t upgrade it. Connecting it to a computer is one way to charge it, but the best way is to use the AC adapter that came with your iPad and connect it directly to a wall outlet before attempting an upgrade.
If you enabled Automatic Updates, which Apple introduced in iOS 12, or selected Install Tonight, which is available in iOS 10 through 12, the iPad must be connected to power overnight as well as Wi-Fi.
Should I install the iPadOS beta?
Running a beta is the only way to get hold of a version of iPadOS before it’s officially launched, and that’s a nice thing if you like to boast about having the latest features, and an essential thing if you’re a developer and need to test your app with the new platform.
Just bear in mind that betas are not finished software. They are likely to contain bugs (looking for bugs is the main reason Apple allows the public to try the beta) and may not have all the features and interface elements that will appear in the final version.
We therefore advise caution in grabbing the iPadOS beta, and don’t recommend installing it on your main iPad if you depend on it for work.
How to upgrade iPadOS from a beta version
If you previously tried out a
ahead of its full release, you should note that in order to get upcoming non-beta iPadOS releases you will need to remove the Apple configuration profile from your device.
You can do this by going to Settings > General > Profile and selecting iPadOS Beta Software Profile, then choosing Delete Profile and entering your passcode to confirm the change. From now on you will receive official updates (rather than beta updates) as normal.
How to download iPadOS without Wi-Fi
If you want to install a new version of iPadOS but don’t have access to Wi-Fi – or if you don’t know if the Wi-Fi you have access to is secure because it’s at a hotel/restaurant – you might be wondering whether you can update iPadOS using cellular or mobile data.
Apple used to have a download cap that stopped downloads of more than 200MB over a data connection. This cap was lifted in iPadOS 13, so you can now download apps of any size. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > App Downloads. You can choose from Ask If Over 200MB, Always Allow or Always Ask.
If you are thinking of downloading this way we warn that even ‘unlimited’ contracts aren’t always truly unlimited and the download is likely to be a few GB.
- from your iPhone and connect to that from your iPad.
- Run through the options to download and install iPadOS.
Your iPad will proceed to download iPadOS using your data connection from your iPhone.
Yikes! My iPad Is Obsolete
- The iPad 2, iPad 3, and iPad Mini cannot be upgraded past iOS 9.3.5.
- The iPad 4 does not support updates past iOS 10.3.3.
Preparation and precautions
You should do a bit of iPad spring-cleaning before installing any software update: it’s very important that you
, because you don’t want to lose any important data, but you should also spend some time clearing some space so that you have enough storage for the new update.
We tend to store lots of movies and TV shows on our iPad, so if you need space these could be removed – if you downloaded them from iTunes or one of the other services you should be able to download them again later on.
Developer vs public betas
Apple runs two iPadOS beta programmes, one for developers and one for the general public. (Both are now available
At any given time the developer beta will be more advanced: Apple rolls out each version to devs first, and to the public afterwards. If you are a developer, therefore, that’s the version to go for.
If you’re not a developer, you’re only allowed to use the public beta.
About This Article
Updating your iPad wirelessly is the easiest way to install the latest version of iPadOS. Keeping your iPad’s software up to date ensures that you always have the latest features, security updates, and bug fixes. Before you start the update, back your iPad up to iCloud or to your computer just in case you run into trouble. Then, connect your iPad to a power source, such as a wall outlet or a computer. If you’re not already connected to a wireless network, you’ll need to do that, too—swipe down from the top-right corner of the home screen to open Control Center, and if the Wi-Fi icon isn’t blue, tap it to connect, or tap-and-hold it to select a network. Next, open the Settings app, which is the gray gear icon on your home screen or in the App Library. Then, tap the «General» tab, and select «Software Update» in the right panel. If an update is available, tap «Download and Install» – if you don’t see this option, you’re already using the latest version of iPadOS. If an update *is* available, review the terms and tap «Install» to confirm. Or, if you’d rather schedule the update so it happens overnight, you can tap «Install Tonight» instead—just make sure you plug your iPad in before you go to bed, and that it’s connected to Wi-Fi. After selecting an option, enter your passcode if prompted. If you’re installing the update now, your iPad will reboot and begin to update. The update can take anywhere from several minutes to an hour or so. When the update is complete, your iPad will reboot again and bring you back to the home screen.
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Lack of Free Space Prevents Upgrade
Your iPad may need as much as 3 GB of free space to swap out the operating system for an iOS upgrade. If your iPad is just a little short of the needed space, it offers to remove apps temporarily and reinstall them later. However, if your iPad has nowhere near enough free space, you won’t see the option to download. Instead, you’ll see an error message suggesting you trim some of the apps, music, movies, or photos from your iPad to free up space before attempting the upgrade again.
This problem is relatively easy to solve. Most of us have apps and games we don’t use anymore. Delete an app from your iPad by holding your finger on the app icon for several seconds until the app begins shaking and then tapping the X in the corner. You could also copy photos and videos to your computer from your iPad and then delete the images from your iPad.
Going to the iPad Storage screen is a better method for freeing up space.
- From the Settings app, select General > iPad Storage.
- Tap any app listed in the iPad Storage screen that you don’t regularly use to open its information screen. The apps are listed by how much space they take up, beginning with the largest.
- In the app information screen, choose Offload App to remove the app while keeping documents and data intact or Delete App to delete the app and all data.The amount of space saved by either action is listed at the top of the screen. Deleting an app frees up more space, but its data and documents are not retrievable, and the deletion is permanent, although you can redownload the app itself later.
- Repeat the process with other apps, focusing on the ones you seldom use or take up the most space on the iPad.
You can also move photos and videos to your computer. Videos can take up a surprisingly large amount of space. If you want to keep access to them on your iPad, copy them to iCloud or a similar service.
Maximize the Storage Space on Your iPad