As of iOS9 Apple stopped allowing iTunes or any other application to backup apps to IPA files. When it comes time to do a restore, one must download all apps. This can either be done to iTunes or on the iOS device itself. The reason is because in iOS9 apps are "thinned" so that data only necessary for an iPad does not waste storage space on an iPhone.

Tools like iTools and iMazing and CopyTrans used to offer the functionality to backup apps to IPA, but have not added support for iOS9.

To question, how to backup apps to IPA so that they can be restored without downloading them again?

  • 2
    Developers can always remove their apps from the app store where it's impossible to download them again - so what happens if you paid a lot of money for a now-discontinued app on an iOS 9 (or later) device and need to move it to a new device?
    – Dai
    Jul 3, 2017 at 8:12
  • @Dai In your example, moving to a new device, it is possible to move thinned apps if it is the same device model. Say, you break your iPhone7 screen and get a new iPhone7. If, however, you want to move from an iPhone 6S to an iPhone 7 you must have the full unthinned app in iTunes.
    – jakethedog
    Jul 3, 2017 at 9:09
  • So what can you do if you don't have the full IPA saved on your computer? So far it sounds like the only option is to demand a refund from Apple. But what about your data saved within the app itself?
    – Dai
    Jul 3, 2017 at 10:15
  • It is not in your 'purchases'? Otherwise, you can ask Apple for a refund. The data for the app can be extracted from a backup, or the device with tools like iTools itools.cn
    – jakethedog
    Jul 3, 2017 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


If you are jailbroken, there is a solution that can be batch scripted.

Install sbutils and ipainstaller from cydia

ssh to phone and run these commands:

sbbundleids > backup.txt while read line; do ipainstaller -b $line done < backup.txt

and then to install the apps:

ipainstaller *.ipa

I tested a few and it allows to upgrade apps directly from app store without fuss. (same appleid, obviously)

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