How to restore older versions of your apps in iTunes

One of my biggest pet peeves about Apple’s iTunes store is that it’s almost impossible to downgrade to a previous version of an App once it has been “updated”.

For example, let’s say a developer releases a free game. Then, in a fit of pure evil, releases an update that adds “in-app purchases” that are not even necessary. Once you update the game, though, you can’t go back to the previous version.

I recently found a way around this.

First, we have to do a little preventative maintenance.

STEP ONE: Launch iTunes and click on the APPS section under LIBRARY.

 

01 App Backup And Restore

01 App Backup And Restore

 

STEP TWO: Pick an app. Any app. It really doesn’t matter which. (In this example, I chose TIMENOTES)

 

02 App Backup And Restore

02 App Backup And Restore

 

STEP THREE: Right-click (or control-click) on the app and go to SHOW IN FINDER

 

03 App Backup And Restore

03 App Backup And Restore

 

STEP FOUR: A folder will open called MOBILE APPLICATIONS. (These are all of the apps you have ever downloaded in iTunes.)

 

04 App Backup And Restore

04 App Backup And Restore

 

STEP FIVE: Go to EDIT in the top menu and go to SELECT ALL. All of the items in the MOBILE APPLICATIONS folder should then be highlighted.

 

05 App Backup And Restore

05 App Backup And Restore

 

STEP SIX: Now go to FILE and LABEL and choose a label color. (I chose green). All of the apps in the MOBILE APPLICATIONS folder should then change to that color.

 

06 App Backup And Restore

06 App Backup And Restore

 

STEP SEVEN: Close the MOBILE APPLICATIONS folder.**

Now when you go to the iTunes store and UPDATE an app (again, in this example I used TIMENOTES)…

 

07 App Backup And Restore

07 App Backup And Restore

 

…when the UPDATE is done, open the TRASH in the dock.

 

08 App Backup And Restore

08 App Backup And Restore

 

There’s the OLD version of the app!!

The updated app is already in the Mobile Applications folder, but iTunes keeps a copy of the old version of the app in the TRASH for a limited time!

Drag it out and save it somewhere for safekeeping!

If you don’t like the “updated” app, just follow steps one through four and delete the “updated” version from the MOBILE APPLICATIONS folder. Then copy the old version of the app back into the MOBILE APPLICATIONS folder and re-sync your iPad or iPhone.

Done!

** Addendum: If you want to be extra cautious about backing up your apps, follow steps one through six and copy everything in the mobile applications folder to a external drive for a complete backup. You can also tell which apps have been recently updated because they will not have a color-label.

*** Addendum #2: For those of you who noticed, yes, I have a LOT of apps. In my defense, I’ve been with iTunes since it was a alpha, so I’ve had a lot of time to accumulate what’s out there.

One thought on “How to restore older versions of your apps in iTunes”

  1. Note, that you can “get back” the older version of the apps from any TimeMachine backup as well, when you search back within the very same folder, where the .ipa files are stored.

    (For as far back, as you TimeMachine “horizon” is valid, and assuming, you have not exlcuded the folder from the backups.)

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