Tip: stop iPhone and iPad from automatically downloading iOS software updates

Automatic iOS update downloads - iOS 14 hero image

Both the iOS 14 software and the iPadOS 14 update bring a new option letting you decide whether your iPhone or iPad will automatically download iOS software updates over Wi-Fi separately from automatically installing the update. If you prefer to manually download iOS software updates, however, then be sure to follow the steps in this tutorial to learn how to turn off automatic iOS downloads for future iOS software updates.

About automatic iOS downloads

Automatic iOS updates were first brought to Apple’s Software Update mechanism on the iPhone and iPad via the iOS 12 update back in 2018 — iOS 12 brought, and enabled by default, a new Automatic Updates toggle to the Software Update feature in Settings. This allows an iOS device to both automatically download a pending iOS update and install it overnight.

Automatic iOS downloads before iOS 13.6
This is what the automatic iOS updates option offered before iOS 13.6

But since the July 15, 2020 release of the iOS and iPadOS 13.6 software updates, you’ve been able to decide whether you’d like iOS software updates to automatically download separately from the auto-install option. Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial to prevent automatic iOS downloads if you prefer to manually download and install future iOS software updates.

Automatic iOS downloads in iOS 13.6
The expanded software update customization options in iOS 13.6

How to disable automatic iOS downloads

Follow these steps to turn off automatic iOS downloads for iPhone and iPad software updates if you want to manually download future iOS software updates.

  • Open the Settings app on your device with the iOS or iPadOS 13.6 software or newer.
  • Choose General from the main list.
  • Tap Software Update.
  • Tap Customize Automatic Updates.
  • Slide the switch next to Download iOS/iPadOS Updates to the OFF position if you prefer to manually check for future iOS software updates rather than let your device download them without user intervention while on Wi-Fi.

Even if you manually download iOS updates, you could still find yourself waking up to a freshly updated device unless you also toggle off the Install iOS/iPadOS Updates switch (doing so will prevent the downloaded iOS software update from automatically installing itself overnight).

TUTORIAL: How to delete downloaded iOS software update from iPhone or iPad

For those wondering, even with both toggles enabled by default, iOS is still going to prompt you before the downloaded iOS software update is actually installed. And just like before, your device must be charging and connected to Wi-Fi in order to complete the update.

Automatic iOS downloads - The "Download iOS Updates" toggle has been disabled
Your device will no longer automatically download iOS software updates

The iOS and iPadOS installer no longer asks if you’d like to turn on or off automatic downloads and installations for iOS updates — now these feature are on by default. Pro users who prefer to be in control of everything their devices does may want to turn automatic iOS downloads off.

For example, you may have a poor Wi-Fi connection at work or your system administrator may have purposefully blocked these updates on your company’s firewall, in which case you might opt to manually download a multi-gigabyte iOS software update via your home Wi-Fi.

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