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Want to be able to downgrade your apps? Save ‘em before updating.

Regrettably, the App Store doesn’t really make it easy to downgrade apps if an update goes awry. This can be pretty problematic if you use your apps for critical stuff like live music and it all goes horribly wrong the day before a gig.

That problem’s pretty easy to solve though. Just back up your apps before upgrading. That way you can try out new updates without the risk. Here’s how:

Open iTunes, then select the “Apps” section from the drop-down box on the top right:

Screen Shot 2013 05 30 at 13 49 14

Next, find the app you want to back up, right-click on it, and select “Show in Finder” (or whatever the Windows equivalent is!).

Screen Shot 2013 05 30 at 13 50 52

Finally, grab the “ipa” file, and copy it somewhere safe.

Screen Shot 2013 05 30 at 13 52 04

If you want to be really safe, grab a piece of software like Macroplant iExplorer which lets you access the files on your device. Then hook up your iDevice via USB, and back up the Documents and Library folders from within the app. That’ll save all your files and config just in case the update applies some non-backwards-compatible changes.

Screen Shot 2013 05 30 at 13 56 34


Now, you may update your app with impunity.

If you change your mind and want to go back to how it was before, drag that backup you made back into iTunes, and tell iTunes to replace the current version. Sync your device, and if you backed up your Documents/Library folder, drag your backup back into the original app folder within iExplorer.

By the way: If it’s too late to make a manual backup, but you use Time Machine or another backup utility, then you’ll find the older version of the app in your backup, within your iTunes music folder. For me, it’s in ~/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom
    Posted June 9, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Hi Michael, Having a question mark in a session name will cause iexplorer to “crash” It says it’s copying but doesn’t do anything anymore Thanks for the info on the program :)

    • Posted June 9, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Oh dear! Please email them a crash report for that one!

  2. Posted July 29, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    You can also use a freeware names iTools that allows you to backup, reinstall etc. IPA files. It works perfectly fine.

    http://itools.hk/en_index.htm

    Using this software I definitively dont use iTunes anymore.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] it will be only be there for a few more days 2. Backup the current version to keep it. (Michael Tyson from Audiobus made this great tutorial) 3. Tell Apple to make this great function officially usable in apps (Any ideas how to do [...]

  2. [...] it will be only be there for a few more days 2. Backup the current version to keep it. (Michael Tyson from Audiobus made this great tutorial) 3. Tell Apple to make this great function officially usable in apps (Any ideas how to do [...]

  3. [...] it will be only be there for a few more days 2. Backup the current version to keep it. (Michael Tyson from Audiobus made this great tutorial) 3. Tell Apple to make this great function officially usable in apps (Any ideas how to do [...]