How to have your iPhone and iPad automatically download new iOS updates

iOS 12 on iPhone and iPad supports automatic updates for iOS software updates

To ensure your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are up to date, turn on an Automatic Updates option to have the latest version of the iOS software downloaded automatically when available.

This handy new option was introduced in iOS 12.


  • New iOS 12 feature lets your device automatically download iOS updates.
  • iPhone or iPad automatically installs downloaded updates overnight.
  • You are notified before the update occurs.
  • You’re offered to turn this feature on when setting up your device.
  • Pro users might want to keep this disabled.

Turning Automatic Updates on ensures that your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is always running the latest commercially available version of the iOS software.

Running the latest iOS edition helps protect your devices from malware and any known exploits that would put your private data at risk of being hijacked by malicious apps.

TUTORIAL: Disabling automatic software updates on Apple TV

On the other hand, Apple typically closes the signing window for older iOS releases within weeks of a major iOS software update release, meaning power users might want to refrain from using this option and instead decide for themselves when they would like to upgrade.

This option is managed separately on every iOS device you own.

How to enable Automatic Updates

The option is off by default, here’s how to enable it:

1) Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 12 or newer.

2) Tap General.

3) Tap Software Update.

4) Tap Automatic Updates.

5) Slide the switch labeled Automatic Updates to the ON position.

The option is found on your iPhone and iPad in Settings → General → Software Update → Automatic Updates

When this option has been enabled, you should see a confirmation message on the previous screen saying the device will automatically install iOS software updates.

Now your iPhone and iPad will automatically download any new iOS software updates when they become available. You’ll need to get past the changelog screen and accept Apple’s various terms and agreements before the download actually installs itself on the device.

TUTORIAL: Stopping your HomePod from installing new software automatically

You can, of course, still check for updates manually in Settings or schedule a new iOS software update to install overnight. When new iOS software is available to download,  you’ll see a notification on your Lock screen and a badge on the Settings app icon, just like before.

Don’t be concerned about your cellular data because iOS software updates only download over Wi-Fi and when your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is connected to power.

Automatic Downloads for apps

Existing settings let you separately control Automatic Downloads for your apps and media.

The relevant toggles are found in Settings → iTunes & App Stores:

  • Music—Have your device automatically download music bought on other devices
  • Apps—Your device will automatically install apps downloaded on other devices
  • Books & Audiobooks—Download your books and audio books bought on other devices
  • Updates—The device will auto-download updates to your installed apps.

The above settings, on by default, apply to free apps and media as well.

TIP: Ensuring your Mac is receiving new malware definitions

Automatic Downloads for your favorite podcasts can be adjusted in your Podcast app settings.

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